No matter how many times you have seen images of the golden mask of boyking Tutankhamen, come face to face with it in Egypt’s Cairo museum，and you will suck in your breath.It was on Nov 4, 1923, that British archaeologist Howard Carter stumbled on a stone at the base of the tomb of another pharaoh(法老)in Luxor that eventually led to a sealed doorway.
Then, on Nov 23，Carter found a second door and when he stuck his head through it, what he saw was to stun the world.Inside lay the great stone coffi n，enclosing three chests of gilded wood.
A few months later, when a crane lifted its granite cover and one coffi n after another was removed, Carter found a solid block of gold weighing 110kg.In it was the mummy(木乃伊) of the 19-year-old Tutankhamen，covered in gold with that splendid funeral mask.And all this lay buried for more than 3,000 years.
Months after my trip to Egypt, I can relive the rush of emotion I felt and sense the hush that descended on the crammed Cairo museum’s Tutankhamen gallery.
Cairo, a dusty city of 20 million people, is a place where time seems to both stand still and rush into utter chaos.It is a place where the ancient and contemporary happily go along on parallel tracks.
Take the Great Pyramids of Giza, sitting on the western edge of the city.Even as the setting sun silhouettes these gigantic structures against the great desert expanse, a call for prayer floats over semi-finished apartment blocks fi lled with the activity of city life.
While careful planning for the afterlife may lie buried underground in Cairo, it is noise and confusion on the streets.Donkey carts battle for space with pedestrians and the only operative road rule is“might is right.”But it is a city that is full of life―from the small roadside restaurants to the coffee shops where men and women smoke the shisha(水烟壶).
Donkey carts piled high with fl at-breads magically fi nd their way in and out the maddening traffic; young women in long skirts and headscarves hold hands with young men in open collar shirts, while conversations dwell on Kuwait’s chances at the soccer World Cup.