Obelisks of Ramses II, Luxor and Paris, Pharaoh Sethi I, in the Louvre. Photos © Art Journey Paris.
Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs in Paris and created the Louvre's Department of Egyptian Antiquities. Only then did he travel to Egypt. Exactly as Champollion did 200 years ago, an Art Journey tour helps understand hieroglyphs and the ancient Egyptians in Paris, and prepares those dreaming of visiting Egypt one day.
Pyramids, monumental tombs and mummies gave the impression that ancient Egypt was all about death. Since Champollion, we know it was quite the opposite, a civilization with a thirst for life, eternal life.
One of the most important collections of Egyptian antiquities outside Egypt, the Louvre illustrates this quest for eternity. It offers a journey through three millennia of civilization, from large statues to objects in gold and papyrus texts.
Explaining the creation myths of ancient Egypt, the Nile, the sun, tales of falcons, scarabs and cows will help make sense of the many gods of Egypt.
Then we will discover the 'perfect gods', the Pharaohs. The Louvre displays three millennia of Kings of Egypt, starting with one of the first Pharaohs. Most of the great Kings of ancient Egypt are there, including Ramses II and Tutankhamun, and Queens with Nefertiti and Cleopatra.
Understanding the ancient Egyptian afterlife would help you realize the belief that both statues and mummies were alive. It would then become clear what happens when the nose of a sculpture was cut or its name chiseled, as will be explained with a statue of Tutankhamun.
There are three complete mummies displayed in the Louvre. We will discover them, not as creepy things out of a horror movie, but as people embodying this quest for eternal life. And discuss how these ancient Egyptians were fortunate, as countless mummies were destroyed by thieves or transformed into medicine.
Once their motives make sense, we can relate with their wish for eternal life, and feel like being on a first-name basis with ancient Egyptians. Names like Nefertiabet, Nakhti, Karomama, and Akhethetep will remain familiar long after this journey.
And you will realize why the ancient Egyptians wanted us to say their name. More than showing you one sphinx and a few Pharaohs, this visit will make you understand why the ancient Egyptians did what they did. And give you a renewed sense of awe for their achievements.
Understand the hieroglyphic system, and what happens when hieroglyphs were erased. Read the names on a major ancient Egyptian masterpiece, Ramses II's obelisk. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
From simple, easy-to-grasp examples, you will quickly understand how hieroglyphs work. Exactly as Champollion did 200 years ago, you will start by reading the name of a Pharaoh. Then learn a handful of important hieroglyphs.
This is accessible to both children and adults. You will come out of the Louvre certain to remember a few hieroglyphs and the satisfaction of having read one or two Pharaoh's names.
Completely overlooked, there is in the Louvre another 'Rosetta Stone'. A stone with bilingual text in Greek, demotic and hieroglyphic script. It is in bad condition, but it is ideal to discuss the decipherment of hieroglyphs. And realize the odds that hieroglyphic writing was ever going to be understood.
A journey through the decipherment of hieroglyphs following Champollion in Paris and the Louvre, as a preparation for the real thing, Egypt. Champollion © Département de l'Isère / Musée Champollion and Dendera temple © Art Journey Paris.
Champollion only was 9 years old when the Rosetta Stone was found. He never saw it, and it would take 23 years for hieroglyphs to be cracked. While other scholars were stuck, young Champollion approached ancient Egypt via books and language. He read all the ancient texts about Egypt and learned a dozen languages.
One of those was Coptic, the church language of Christian Egyptians, based on the words spoken by Pharaohs. Champollion heard the sounds of ancient Egypt in a Parisian church, listening to a Coptic ceremony. He even said:
"I dream in Coptic. I do nothing but that, I dream only in Coptic, in Egyptian.
I am so Coptic, that for fun, I translate into Coptic everything that comes into my head".
For 1,400 years, all the texts carved on temples along the Nile were nothing but a mystery. Until 1822, in an attic near the Seine, when Champollion became the first person able to read hieroglyphs. As he read Egyptian names, the entire civilization came back to life. He first discovered ancient Egypt in Paris, and then wondered at its marvels there.
With an art journey to ancient Egypt, you will understand the civilization and how hieroglyphs work. Discover the story of their decipherment. Imagine the Seine was the Nile, and wonder at the achievements of the ancient Egyptians.
There are three options to discover Ancient Egypt in the Louvre and Paris:
#1 - As part of a private tour of the Louvre, on one of the two floors of the Egyptian Antiquities Department.
#2 - Still as part of a private tour of the Louvre, but instead of less than an hour, then up to half of the visit dedicated to Egypt, with a selection of masterpieces on two floors. That will allow enough time to visit artworks from the age of the first Pharaohs and the pyramids, including the mastaba of Akhethetep, the heights of the New Empire with Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, and Ramses II. The sarcophagus of Ramses III. The rare bronze Karomama and gold pendant of Osorkon II, with a discussion of the role and importance of gold in ancient Egypt. The Fayum mummy portraits, and more.
#3 - A comprehensive ancient Egyptian experience in both the Louvre and outside in the streets of Paris, sites related to Champollion's discovery, all within a 10-15 minutes' walk from the Louvre museum. In barely more than one square mile around the Louvre, we have :
The pyramids of Giza at sunset. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
To inquire about a private tour, please mention the date of the visit as well as the number of participants, using the form below, thank you.