Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Travel Tuesday: Old Kingdom Death Mask from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo
My recent trip to Egypt was actually the second time I visited that fascinating country. The first was way back in 1991. As I wandered around the sights, I was occasionally hit by deja vu. Other sights I remember clearly from my first visit. One of the latter is this arresting Old Kingdom death mask in the national museum in Cairo.
It stuck in my mind from my first visit because the face looks just like people you see in Egypt today. Indeed, despite Egypt being popularly perceived (and officially titled) an Arab nation, only 17% of the genetic makeup of the modern population is Arabic. A recent study by National Geographic found that the Egyptian population is genetically 68% North African, 17% Arab, 4% Jewish Diaspora, 3% East African, 3% from Asia Minor, and 3% southern European. Thus the modern Egyptian population is much the same as the ancient Egyptian population, and this 4,000 year old mask shows a face that can still be seen on the streets of Cairo today.