Bowl decorated with blue lotus flowers

Bowl decorated with blue lotus flowers
Bowl decorated with blue lotus flowers

A large pottery bowl decorated with blue lotus flowers, there are red details and black outlines.The corolla encloses the lower half of the bowl while the border above consists of pendant petal-rays.

The bowl imitates the form of the white lotus. Blue painted pottery seems to have been made only at royal residences and was therefore produced by a small number of master craftsmen at a few workshops. It was used in religious contexts, in tombs and also for decoration in the home.

Al-Manyal Palace Museum

The museum was set up by Prince " Mohammad Ali Tawfiq " in 1899 in the middle of a thirty - feddan garden. The garden has a group of rare trees which the Prince had brought from various parts of the world. The palace's architecture, interior decorations and furniture are all modeled on the Arabesque style. The museum's collection is the most complete representative set of the " Ottoman " art. In addition, the museum contains early Islamic manuscripts and rare collections of embroidered textiles, carpets, crystal vessels and candelabra.

The Palace was built to commemorate and eternalize Islamic Art. It is considered amongst the most important and historic museums since it represents a crucial period in modern Egyptian history and portrays in detail the life of the Royal Family. The architectural designs distinguish it from other museums because of its Modern Islamic art carrying the essence of Moroccan, Persian and Syrian styles.

 Al-Manyal Palace Museum

The Palace is situated in the east of the River Nile along the island of Manial El-Roda. It covers an area of 61711 square meters, as buildings occupy 5000 square meters, 34,000 square meters for gardens and 22711 square meters for inner roads and garden constructions.

The Palace is divided into 11 sections; the gate which was built in the style of middle age castles gates, has terraces for guards.

The palace facade resembles that of Iranian Mosques and Schools of the 14th C. The reception palace was designed for receiving official guests and is of two stories. The first story has two rooms, the ceremony room and the reception one for those who offer Friday prayers with the Prince, the second story has two halls; the Moroccan and Syrian halls.

The Saa (clock) Tower lies between the Reception Palace and the Mosque, which Prince Mohamed Ali built after the Andalosian and Moroccan fashions.

The fountain lies between the tower and the great Mosque, the Mosque despite its small size is considered an unmatchable architectural and ornamental antique.

The Hunting Museum is a long hall annexed to the east gate overlooking the garden. It displays possessions of King Farouk and Prince Youssef Kamal who loved hunting. This Museum was finished long after the death of the Prince and was opened to the public in 1962.    The two-story residence is the oldest building in the palace and has a tower overlooking sights of Cairo and Giza. The first story consists of al-Shakma, the mirror lobby, harem room, blue saloon, dining room, arabesque saloon and the fireplace room. The second story consists of the jewelry room, arabesque room, Princes bedroom, maid’s room and a balcony overlooking the mirror hall. The Throne palace was designed after the Ottoman style in the form of a "Kosha"

The private Museum is situated in the southern part of the palace and consists of 15 halls divided by a yard with a small garden. The palace garden is a rare plant museum, where the Prince collected a lot of plants unknown in Egypt and was able to adapt them to the soil and environment. It is a real example for the modern Egyptian history. 

 Al-Manyal Palace Museum

The Antiquities Museum in the Alexandrine Library

In 295 BC, the Egyptian Ruler Ptolemy I Soter, commissioned the construction of the Great Library of Alexandria (one of the cultural wonders of the ancient world). In the following years, local scientists traveled through the region to purchase books for the library. The Library held many copies of important books of the ancient world as well as the originals of Euripides and Sophocles.

All human knowledge of the ancient world was stored in the Library, not just of Egypt or the Greek territories, for Ptolemy I sent his representatives throughout the known world to collect reference works.In 48 BC, the Library and at least 40,000 scrolls were burnt when Julius Caesar attacked the city (during the Alexandrian war) and a huge fire swallowed up the ancient Library.

 The Antiquities Museum in the Alexandrine Library

It would seem that this was the end of the fabled library and thus the end of a legend, but  2,000 years later, after 10 years of planning, the Egyptian government and  UNESCO have combined their efforts in order to revive the ancient Library. The Alexandria Library has now risen from the ashes of antiquity so that it might once more lead the world as a cultural center and a focal point for knowledge not only in Egypt, bur for the world as a whole.

As part of the library, a new and very important antiquities museum has been created in order to highlight the history of Alexandria across the ages. It specifically highlights the cultural era of the Hellenistic world, providing exhibits related to knowledge and the arts.

The museum was  ceremonially opened in January 2003. It now contains  rare artifacts from the Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras. These artifacts are displayed in chronological order, representing the evolution of writing, the birth of scholarship and librarianship, and the ancient arts with informative displays presenting mosaic, portraits, glassware, pottery, coins, textile and much more.

The museum is housed in section B1 of the Library complex on the ground floor of the main building. After passing through the security gate of the Library, take the stairs that lead down to the ground floor. On the right side of the stairs is the ticket office.  General admission costs 10 LE for foreign tourists, and 4 LE for Egyptians. The admission charge includes the services of a guide, who will conduct a tour through the long corridors. The guides are proficient in English, French and German (and of course, Arabic).

Within the museum, one will immediately be astonished by the noticeable harmony between the interior design of the museum and the displays within. Finely coordinated exhibits are well lit and aesthetically pleasing.

The moment one steps inside the museum a beautiful Tableau hanged on the wall catches the eye. It is of a school girl, who sits on a stool copying out her lesson with a wooden stylus on a waxed tablet. It says of the statue that, "Education for girls as well as boys flourished at the ancient Library of Alexandria as attested by this Terra cotta statue dated circa 200 BC".
Lets explore the museum and see what sort of ancient wonders reveal themselves.


Pharaonic Antiquities

In the halls dedicated to ancient Egyptian artifacts, displays teach us particularly about the development of writing. Here, we find various statues of ancient Egyptian scribes and there, a collection of writing tools from the Pharaonic period. There are displays devoted to papyrus with an illustrated history of its use in Egypt as well as documentation on the evolution of writing through the period.


Alexandria's Sunken Antiquities
There is also space provided for Alexandria's sunken antiquities. It is believed that, due to a series of violent earthquakes, the northern parts of the city were lost to the Mediterranean sea. Archaeological exploration to recover these antiquities actually began in the gulf of Abu Qir in 1933 and in the Royal district (eastern harbor) in 1961, when the Egyptian Kamal Aboul Sadat reported seeing sunken monuments in the depths of the eastern port area, which faces Qaitbey Fort.

At first, divers retrieved a few pots, but soon they were also bringing up gold coins dating to the Byzantine period. Then they discovered a granite statue of Isis measuring 7.5 meters in height, spurring additional interest. In 1968, the Egyptian government requested assistance from UNESCO in the development of a map of the sunken antiquities in the eastern port area. UNESCO responded positively and the resulting map became the guiding reference for current work in the area.

In 1993, The European Marine Institute, a French expedition under the direction of famed under water excavator Frank Goddio, began work in both the eastern port area and at Abu Kir. The expedition was comprised of thirty Egyptian and French divers, and their work revealed thousands of items in the shadows of the Qaitbey Fort, including Pillars, crowns and statues. Jean Yves Empreur, one of the French archeologists, explains that the finds were almost certainly the remains of the ancient Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was one of the wonders of the ancient world, toppled by one of Alexandria's ancient earthquakes.

Many of the artifacts from these underwater excavations are now in the museum's collection. These artifacts require special treatment due to their submergence in salt water which results in salt accumulations in the epidermis (skin) of the stone. After being removed from the sea, they are immediately placed in water tanks with the same solution of sodium as in the seawater. Then the sodium solution in the tank is gradually reduced, which results in the sodium within the artifacts slowly being released into the fresher water. Eventually, after about six months, the artifact is cleansed of its salt content and the process is complete. Only then can the piece be exposed to the open air without damage.

Greco-Roman Antiquities

Of course, the Alexandria Library was at the center of the Greco-Roman world, hosting both scientist and philosophers. Here, Archimedes invented his pump still in use today and known as Archimedes’s screw. Euclid wrote “Elements” (the base of Euclidean geometry) and “ Optics” (a treatise of geometrical optics). They were not alone and many famous scholars worked to, for example, isolate the function of the heart, calculate the circumference of the earth and even develop the concept of the leap year. In fact, the loss of the library in ancient times basically resulted in the loss of the combined knowledge of the ancient world.

Within the Greco-Roman section of the library we find many statues of the most important Greek philosophers, orators, writers and historians, together with other artifacts of the period. Here, there is a glass cabinet which displays a collection of Golden Jewelry, rings and coins discovered at Abu Kir (1999-2000), some of which date back to the Greek Period.

Coptic and Christian Antiquities

Textile were the most distinguished product of Coptic Christian art. Thousands of pieces of textiles were found in Egypt, dating back to the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras. Most of them were woven of wool and flax and were characterized by the richness of their decorations which comprised geometric, floral designs, human figures, Christian motifs and even scenes from mythology.

Coptic textiles had many uses during Egypt's Christian period, including bed sheets and covers, towels, napkins, tablecloths and carrying sacks, while in churches and other public buildings, these decorative fabrics were used for curtains and hangings.


Most commonly, textiles during the Coptic period were used for clothing which, during that time period, most frequently took the form of a tunic, or rectangular shirt-like garment which was usually fastened at the waist by a belt. Textiles were also used for belts, cloaks and shawls. The tunics of Copts was most often made of plain wool or linen and adorned with either a single vertical band (clavus) that ran down the center of the garment, or two vertical bands (clavi) that fell over each shoulder and ran down to the knee or the bottom of the garment on both the front and back.

Islamic Antiquities

The Library of Alexandria's Museum also contains items from the Islamic Period. This was a period when Alexandria experienced its loss of status as the Capital of Egypt to what would eventually become Cairo. The museum contains collections of Arabesque wooden windows, carpets, tablets and lanterns.

Notably, in the seventh century AD, glassmaking flourished in Egypt and glassmakers inherited many of the techniques of their forbearers in the Byzantine and Sasanian empires. These  included glassblowing, the use of molds, the manipulation of molten glass with tools, and the decorative application of molten glass. Islamic glass production from the seventh through the fourteenth century was also greatly innovative and witnessed glorious phases, such as those of superb relief-cut glass and spectacular gilded and enameled objects, that established its supremacy in glassmaking throughout the world.

Antiquities of the Bibliotheca Alexandrian Site
Prior to building the new Library of Alexandria, excavations were conducted on its future site in 1993. From this archaeological investigation, several unique Mosaic pieces immerged.

The Hall of the Afterlife

For the first time, in the Alexandrian museum, there is a hall devoted to the mummification process which not only provides information on ancient Egyptian mummification, but on this funerary practice in Predynastic times and during the Greek and Roman Periods.

Currently this hall has on display three mummies from different eras (ancient Pharaonic, Ptolemaic and Roman). One is the coffin of an individual known as Aba, son of Ankh-hor, who was the governor of Upper Egypt and head of its treasury. This wooden coffin is decorated with colored designs and hieroglyphic inscriptions including the Book of the Dead. It still retains much of its original colors. The mummy was brought from the excavation carried out by the Belgian mission at Asasif Necropolis (part of the Tombs of the Nobles) on the West Bank of ancient Thebes (modern Luxor). The exhibit includes four canopic jars that were used to preserve the organs of the deceased.

A second wooden coffin belonged to a Greek woman, who was also mummified. It is decorated with colored representations as well, including depictions of a winged goddess Isis. During this period, we know that it took only forty days for the mummification process, as opposed to the seventy days required during more ancient times.

The third mummy, without coffin, is that of a Roman woman wrapped in linen bandages and covered with five pieces of cartonnage.

There is also a collection of small funerary figures. These are often referred to interchangeably as Shabti, Shawabti and Ushabti, though in reality each of these terms refers to certain types of funerary figures specific to a time frame or location.


Initially, these magical figures were believed to act as a substitute for the deceased himself, although later they came to be regarded as mere servants in the afterlife. Hence, at first they were sometimes fashioned either as mummies or as living persons dressed in fine linen garb, but in later periods their appearance changed more to that of servants. A spell for this purpose appeared in the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts, and from the New Kingdom the figures were inscribed with Chapter six of the Book of the Dead.

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