On Saturday I attended Prof. Bob Brier’s talk at the Smithsonian Ripley Center ( A Smithsonian Resident Associates talk):

Temples, Monuments, and Tombs: Exploring Egypt’s Ancient Treasures

egypt-treasuresThis was a great day of archaeology lectures!

I had planned to take the Metro into Washington, D.C., but was running late (shocker!), so drove in. No spots on Jefferson Ave in front of the S. Dillon Ripley Center (sometimes I get lucky), so I parked at a meter at the end of the Mall (on 7th). That was actually convenient, as you can use an app on your phone to pay the meter, so I just renewed my spot every 2 hours on my phone without having to go back to feed the meter. Nice.

I arrived just a few minutes after it started. I assumed walking in that I would have a crappy seat (it was a sold out event), but there were some free chairs along the side of the upper balcony in the auditorium – unobstructed view, and no one crowding. Nice! I had been to a previous lecture of Prof. Brier’s, about 6 years ago, for the release of his book, “The Secrets of the Great Pyramid”, so I knew I would like the presentation. He is a great lecturer; dynamic speaker and he keeps your interest.

In anticipation of this seminar I have also started watching his Great Courses series, The History of Ancient Egypt. Wow. Wonderful course. I’m going to have Preston watch a lecture or two with me; I think he will enjoy this.

Normally in these day-long Smithsonian symposiums you get a break for lunch and have to fend for yourself. This time, however, they included a catered, box lunch. I chose the smoked turkey sandwich (lettuce and bacon too!). Quite yummy, with a nice side of rustic red potato salad and also fresh fruit cup. I saved the brownie. I hope this box lunch is a new trend – much better than having to run around and find lunch. I found an empty classroom and had a relaxing lunch and read a few articles in the latest Nature.

After the symposium, it was only a little after 4 and I had time on the meter – so I went to the National Gallery of Art (West) for an hour. Heck, I had parked almost right in front of it! That was a nice little tour. Wish I had more time, but they close at 5. My iPhone takes some surprisingly good pictures of the artwork; lots of new wallpaper for my phone now. :)

Not much traffic on way home, so just a great day. Would have been perfect if it hadn’t been 23 degrees out. Dusting of snow made it look nice, though. :)

Anyway, below is the syllabus from the website. He followed this pretty closely.

All-Day Program
Saturday, January 7, 2017 – 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Ancient Egypt was a major Mediterranean civilization, existing for almost 30 centuries. Its culture was one of architectural innovation and artistic beauty, governed by rich religious traditions. Egyptologist Bob Brier, an expert in pyramids, tombs, and mummies, explores its timeless heritage in a day-long examination of Egypt’s spectacular historic sites, from the Giza Plateau to the Philae Temple.

9:30–10:45 a.m. Pyramids

Among the largest structures on earth, pyramids served as royal funerary structures filled with riches for the afterlife. Examine the Great Pyramid and those in Cairo, the Giza plateau, and locations in Saqqara and Dahshur.

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. From Karnak to the Ramesseum

Karnak is the world’s second-largest religious site with more than 30 pharaohs contributing to its complex of temples. The Luxor Temples are known as the site where kings might have been crowned. Mortuary temples on the west bank include those of Hatshepsut (Deir el Bahri), Ramses the Great (the Ramesseum), and Ramses III (Medinet Habu).

12:15­­–1:15 p.m. Lunch (box lunch provided)

1:15–2:30 p.m. The West Bank of the Nile

The Valley of the Kings is the mortuary area where many pharaohs, their families, and powerful nobles are buried. The most famous is Tutankhamen’s tomb, and a recent theory suggesting that Queen Nefertiti is buried behind one of its walls sparked new searches for secret chambers.

2:45–4 p.m. The Jewel of the Nile and Abu Simbel

Philae Temple, known as the “Jewel of the Nile” was built by Greek rulers of Egypt. Abu Simbel, the massive temple of Ramses II carved into a mountain, was an inspiration for Mount Rushmore.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit

“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” -Albert Einstein

I had never heard this quote before.  I just read it, of all places, in the book, “Before the Fall” by Noah Hawley.

I like it.

Some “new” ancient coins for Preston’s collection. The youngest is over 1600 years old. The oldest is over 2300 years old! More than two thousand years. I get a kick out of holding a coin that was used to buy something so long ago, and could have traveled around the ancient world in somebody’s “pocket” (or whatever). These are our first real ancient coins. I suspect we will be scouting for more as time goes on…

Some history of the coins:

The Honorius is neat: On 23 January 393, Theodosius I proclaimed his son Honorius, age 8, co-ruler (Augustus) of the Western Roman Empire. Thought Preston would appreciate that. The coin is a bit smaller than a US nickel.

The Greek Philip II is nice, though harder to see details. Philip II became the ruler of all Greece when he defeated the Athenians at the Battle of Chaeroneia in 338 B.C. Philip personally selected the design of his coins. His horse, on the reverse of this coin, won a race in the Olympic Games in 356 B.C., the year his son Alexander the Great was born. The coin is about the size of a US penny, but thicker.

And the Silver denarius? Just looked freakin cool. Silver! Annona was the goddess of harvest and her main attribute is grain. This reverse suggests the arrival of grain by sea from the provinces (especially from Africa) and its distribution to the people. The coin is about the size of a US dime.

I haven’t done a lot of macro photography, so I suspect my images of coins will get better over time. Still working on lighting.

Sprouting in back yard :)


Roll For The Galaxy (RftG) and Tokaido made it to the table at Steve’s. Roll For The Galaxy is a newly released game, similar to Race for the Galaxy (which I have never played), and I am really enjoying it.

RftG scratches a number of gaming itches: Exploration, Civ building and … Dice! Tokaido is a lightweight but fun game of collecting stuff on a journey to Tokaido (Tokyo). It came out in 2012, but I only recently discovered it. Pretty board. :)

I only took one picture for Roll For The Galaxy (too absorbed!)…

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