Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
There is, perhaps, a kind of paradox to treasures of antiquity — sometimes the most astonishing wonders of the ancient world have remained so because of a lack of exposure to the tourism that would share them with the modern era. Since its discovery in 1940 by Egyptologist Zaki Saad, the tomb of Mehu — located in the Saqqara region, close to the Great Pyramid of Giza — has been closed to the public. The 4,000-year-old tomb, which dates back to the 6th dynasty, recently officially opened to public visitation for the first time.
The tomb houses the earthly remains of Vizier Mehu, a high ranking advisor close to the pharaoh, and members of his family, including his son Meren Ra and his grandson Heteb Kha. The exact era of Mehu’s life is disputed within the field of Egyptology — some historians believe he served under King Teti, who reigned until 2327 BCE, and others claim slightly later, under King Pepi, who reigned until 2287 BCE. What is without debate is that the tomb contains jaw-dropping wall paintings and relief carvings, with astonishing details, unusually bright colors, and period-specific motifs. For example, images of a crocodile marrying a turtle and celebration dances are depicted on the walls, as reported by The Express.
Of course, the vividness of these colors and the preservation of the delicate relief details within the tomb may largely be due to its exclusivity over the last 80 years. One cannot help but wonder if exposure to the thousands of flash photographs sure to follow its public debut will degrade the quality of this specimen of the ancient world. History offers a few cautionary tales in this vein: In 1940, for example, prehistoric cave paintings were discovered inside the Lascaux cave complex in France; it was subsequently opened to the public in 1948. But by 1955, carbon dioxide, heat, humidity, and other contaminants produced by visitors had begun to visibly damage the paintings, and create conditions that gave rise to fungi and lichen, which affected the environment of the caves and their contents.
Presumably, the opening of this tomb is an effort to drive tourism, but those interested in seeing this iconic example of ancient humanity’s artistic and architectural success should probably book their trip to Egypt as soon as possible. One can imagine that, if the tomb is degraded through the introduction of outside contaminants, the cost of exposure may eventually become too great, and access could be restricted again. Egyptology enthusiasts are now being presented with a rare and limited opportunity to see a great work of art and history, undisturbed.
The pandemic raged on, plus we were forced to learn about crypto-art.
From North to South America, artists used the bold colors, figuration, and appropriated imagery of Pop Art, but with a biting political message.
Yemen Blues brings their sonic blend of Yemenite, West African, and Jazz back to Joe’s Pub in New York City this December, featuring opener Ahmed Alshaiba.
Coralina Rodriguez Meyer invites women to reconnect with the indigenous and syncretic spiritualities of their ancestors to find new power.
A young, Black, gay man from the American South, Kelly was a determined, self-taught innovator who worked his way into the highest levels of international fashion.
Join designers, artists, educators, and publishers, including Sonel Breslav, Printed Matter’s Director of Fairs and Editions, for talks and conversations exploring artist book publishing.
Stephen Raw, the 69-year-old artist behind the project, has been photographing and collecting rusty objects since he was 17.
Researchers and artists are working to restore biodiversity in Kofele, Ethiopia, through a 50-meter tree nursery in the shape of a lion that will be visible from outer space.
Students can expect to pay significantly less than half the cost of attendance of equivalent private graduate programs, thanks to the college’s position in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Acclaimed director Jane Campion returns to film with an all-star cast featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and more.
Detroit police received a tip that led them to Andrzej Sikora’s art studio, where police took James and Jennifer Crumbley into custody.
In 1962, Andy Warhol desperately wanted to be like his accomplished new pal, Marisol.