Biblical Tour Guide aka A Metropolitan Museum Travesty

The Met was also the scene of an incident that really got my goat (and could often get my goat) about some aspects of some people’s American Culture. We happened to the surfing the Egyptian halls around the same time a Bible Tour Guide was explaining his version of the artefacts and Egyptian history.

D6 statue of a bound captive from the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Metropolitan Museum, New York.

It started with a rather excellent Dynasty 6 (c2200 BC) statue of a kneeling and bound captive.

It is an incredible fact that the statue has survive for over 4000 years, however the Bible Tour Guide decided to portray it as evidence that biblical figures were in Egypt and bound as such using images like the below as evidence.

For the enquiring mind you might think that it is evidence that an artist for a biblical publication in the 80s did some research and decided to use the statue (or other similar depictions) as inspiration. There is no fact beyond that!


Sadly however that was not the last indignity that this ‘guide’ gave to the collection

Head of a Cow Goddess
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The head of a cow goddess is thought to be either Hathor or Mehetweret, but this man decided to declare it as Hathor and proceeded to call her the original party girl; going out, partying down and getting drunk and debauching. He was using a lot of 21st century comparisons and allusions against this ancient Egyptian goddess and while granted she did have a role as goddess of music and dance, there we no bars, pubs and clubs that I can reference in Ancient Egypt history (do let me know if you know different!) and he was attempting to link these modern-day inventions with scenes like the below.

AncientEgyptDailyLIfeMusicPic_large

The biggest travesty of all was that was all he told his tour group about Hathor. There was nothing about the aspects of joy, the feminine aspect, fertility, love or motherhood; the cynic in me would say that is typical of a man preaching an Abrahamic religion the way he was.

At that stage my more calm (and laughing) other half had to physically removed me from that particular gallery room as through my raised voice I was trying too hard to make my corrections over heard. Oops.

I acknowledge that it is hard to sometimes not put a very modern perspective on a very ancient scene, especially when they can appear somewhat remote in terms of context, but yet very familiar; the young ladies above do seem to be having a good time with the music and dance. It is one thing that I thank the wonderful tutors at the University of Glasgow for constantly reminding the classes I have attended when we fall into that trap.

However sometimes is it an obvious and very deliberate; a way to disgrace and discredit an ancient culture, the people and the religion for your own ends. This is obviously wrong and more so in a place that is meant to be educating and informing with the facts that we know, not filling in the blanks of your own stories with the tall tales you can make up.

One thing though, this egit did not spoil my overall and very positive impression of the museum and the Egyptian collection.

One thought on “Biblical Tour Guide aka A Metropolitan Museum Travesty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s