Brooklyn Museum wrote:
In his Travels in Egypt, Charles Edwin Wilbour writes about...
In his Travels in Egypt, Charles Edwin Wilbour writes about coming upon a small room with images and hieroglyphs of the heavenly cow—the“cow-room”—as he was exploring the tomb of Ramses III in the Valley of the Kings in February of 1881. The tomb had been explored numerous times before but, according to Wilbour, no known drawings or descriptions existed at that time. In his own words:
“It seems like a dream now and I should not be surprised if I failed to find it again. How could it have escaped everybody?” […] in one of the best known and visited tombs […] in a tomb which Champollion has described and everybody since him and which everybody who comes here goes to see and which I had been to see before myself.” [p.50 letters]
The romance of research and exploration is full of such contradictions. Discovery doesn’t preclude rediscovery, and for a restless mind the world unwraps itself continually. A recent reference request to the Wilbour Library of Egyptology seeking an unpublished manuscript by Wilbour illustrates this paradox times two.
We received an inquiry for an item that we knew we had. It had been seen, described, and catalogued, but the citation and numbering system supplied by the researcher were unfamiliar. We knew it was here, if only we could crack the code and find it again!
After some detective work, the path led to Wilbour and to the manuscripts that he created in 1881 as he began to document his discoveries in the room of the heavenly cow. It’s all there in great detail, the magnificent images and hieroglyphs tell the story of humankind’s rebellion against the supreme sun god Ra and the divine punishment that was inflicted through the goddess Hathor with the survivors separated from Ra who now lived in the sky on the back of Nut the heavenly cow.
A tomb revisited, a manuscript revealed, a myth re-discovered, and—because Nut is the goddess of sky and all heavenly bodies, of course—the body is filled with stars.
Posted by Roberta Munoz