Students Visit Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose
This spring, Religious and Classical Studies professor Carrie Schroeder arranged a field trip to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose.
The Rosicrucian has the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts on the West Coast. The museum itself is built in the style of an ancient Egyptian temple, and the beautiful grounds are adorned with replicas of ancient Egyptian statuary and objects. The students were able to see the library, which is usually closed.
The field trip, funded by a CAPD (Committee for Academic Planning and Development) grant, enabled three of Dr. Schroeder's classes to participate: two sessions of "New Testament/Christian Origins" and her "Religion of the Pharaohs" class.
The museum provided historical context of a land closely tied to the New Testament. By viewing the artifacts and displays, students gained a better understanding of the transition from the Egyptian pharaohs to Roman rule.
Some of the interesting artifacts included a royal incense burner, crosses and artifacts from the Coptic (early Christian) period, and a rare statue of Cleopatra VII—one of only seven in the world that has survived. Also displayed were elaborate coffins, reconstruction of a tomb, and adult and child mummies.
Students learned about the substantial amount of work that went into making papyrus, which was mainly used for important documents such as marriage contracts and funeral tableaus.
They were also surprised to learn about the important role of makeup in religion and society. "Our tour guide explained that the Egyptians' eyeliner was so dark because they used their fingers to apply it, in addition to the fact that it helped to shield their eyes from the sun," said one student.
Here are a few other comments from students, who were universally impressed by the field trip:
"Visiting the Rosicrucian Museum and viewing all of the various artifacts greatly helped enhance my views of ancient Egyptian life and religion."
"It was interesting to see the rituals that were practiced when burying someone and the concepts of the afterlife. It was a very good experience to go to the museum and see how the concepts related to class topics."
"Not only did I find similarities between the roles of the Egyptian pharaohs, Roman emperors, and Jewish high priests, but I also found similarities between the functions and economic benefits of the temples to the local communities."
"Viewing the various household items allowed me to gain a better grasp of how the ancient Egyptians actually lived and how they integrated religion into their daily routines."
"It is amazing to me that the works of people from over three thousand years have made it to the 21st century. I don't believe that things that we have made today will be here three thousand years from now, which says a lot for the craftsmanship of the ancient Egyptians."