Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Museum Website and Media!

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
has a new web home!

We are delighted to announce that the Museum has a new Website:

Please visit us to enjoy this beautiful new site and features!

Also, please visit and become a Fan of the our Facebook pages:

Rosicrucian Park:

Official AMORC Site:

Or, just Log on (or join) Facebook and then search for "Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum" and "Rosicrucian Park" and "Rosicrucian Order AMORC" for information on new features and news!

You can also follow us on Twitter at


Egyptian Museum



Enjoy these new resources!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ancient Egyptian Epagomenal Festival: July 18 – 19, 2009

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum will be hosting its annual Egyptian Epagomenal Festival on Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19. In ancient Egyptian mythology, the calendar included 360 days plus five additional epagomenal days. These epagomenal days were days “out of time” when the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, and the gods Osiris, Seth and Horus were born. The Egyptians celebrated the birthdays of these gods with a festival each year. Our version of this festival will include a variety of special lectures, tomb tours, workshops and children’s activities held throughout Rosicrucian Park.

Visit our outdoor booths, held all day on Saturday and Sunday! Booths include hands-on activities such as henna and perfume-making, or get your picture taken at our ancient Egyptian “photo booth.” You can even learn to write in hieroglyphs on papyrus paper!

Saturday, July 18 Schedule

11:30 Gallery Talk: The Goddess Nephthys

12:00 Gallery Talk: The Goddess Isis

12:30 Opening of the Mouth Ceremony and Tomb Tour

12:30 Ancient Egyptian Games Workshop

1:30 Gallery Talk: Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths

2:00 Planetarium Show: The Mithraic Mysteries*

2:00 Ancient Egyptian Jewelry Talk and Jewelry-Making Activity*

3:00 Gallery Talk: The God Osiris

3:30 Planetarium Show: The Mithraic Mysteries*

3:30 Gallery Talk: The God Horus

4:00 Gallery Talk: Mummification

4:30 “Weighing of the Smarts” Ancient Egyptian Trivia Contest*

Sunday, July 19 Schedule

11:00 Gallery Talk: The God Horus

11:30 Ancient Egyptian Mummies Workshop

12:00 Gallery Talk: Scribes and the Rosetta Stone

12:30 Artifact Exploration Workshop

1:30 Opening of the Mouth Ceremony and Tomb Tour

2:00 Planetarium Show: The Mithraic Mysteries*

2:30 Gallery Talk: The Goddess Isis

3:00 Gallery Talk: The God Seth

3:30 Planetarium Show: The Mithraic Mysteries*

3:30 Gallery Talk: The God Osiris

4:00 Gallery Talk: The Goddess Nephthys

4:30 “Weighing of the Smarts” Ancient Egyptian Trivia Contest*

5:00 Ancient Egyptian Garden Tour and Planting Activity*

All activities are complimentary with museum admission.

*Space is limited for some activities, and special tickets are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to secure your ticket!

For more information email us or call 408-947-3635.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Workshop Highlight: Ancient Egyptian Mummies

This new addition to our weekend workshop series is all about mummies! The workshop was created to take full advantage of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum’s four resident human mummies, who provide us with a wealth of information about ancient Egypt.

Part archaeology and part CSI, the workshop currently focuses on all of the information that can be derived from the scientific study of mummies. Participants will be led on a walking tour of our mummy collection, which will illustrate the many techniques that have been used to study these mummies, including forensic anthropology, x-ray and CT scanning, digital imaging, and chemical analysis.

You will get to know all of these four human mummies and exactly what we have learned about each of them. Their stories are fascinating, from the suspicious bone fractures on a 28-year-old woman to the mysterious mummy that arrived at the museum, unwrapped and quite unexpected, in a coffin that did not belong to him.

You will hear about how cutting-edge imaging technology allowed us to see inside the mummy of a 4 ½ year old girl without even touching her, and how these images were used to create an accurate facial reconstruction of the child. The workshop will also cover the process of mummification, why it can preserve bodies for thousands of years, and what visible traces of the process can be seen on the mummies in the museum.

The Ancient Egyptian Mummies Workshop is held on the first Saturday of every month at 12:30 pm, and is free with museum admission. New topics may be added to this workshop in the future, so check the Scribe online for updates!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Discovering the Mummy of Hatshepsut

One of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs, Hatshepsut is known for an ambitious building program, legendary trading expeditions, and an exceptionally prosperous reign. Hatshepsut is most famous, however, for being one of the few women to rule Egypt as king. Until recently, the body of this legendary ruler was thought to be lost to history, destroyed, like her monuments, in attempts to wipe out all evidence of her reign. However, recent studies suggest that an anonymous mummy in the Valley of the Kings may indeed be "the king herself."

Hatshepsut lived during Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty, whose well-known members included Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Tutankhamun. Her father was Thutmose I, and she married her half-brother, Thutmose II (a common custom for Egyptian monarchs). When Thutmose II died, his son Thutmose III, whom he fathered by another wife, was too young to rule. Queen Hatshepsut became his co-regent and ruled on his behalf, another common custom.

Hatshepsut broke with tradition, however, when she declared herself king. She ruled for a time on her own, and then later as co-Pharaoh with Thutmose III. She used male titles and portrayed herself with traditional kingly attributes. This probably helped to legitimize her reign, since Egyptian custom held that kings should be male. She also reinforced her right to rule by claiming divine descent, and emphasizing her royal lineage through her grandmother, Ahmose-Nefertari. Thutmose III eventually became king, but there is little evidence to suggest he felt animosity toward his step-mother. The destruction of her monuments most likely represents a later political attempt to erase the memory of a female pharaoh and preserve Egyptian tradition.

Hatshepsut’s official tomb, KV20, contained canopic jars for her internal organs but no mummy. A box inscribed for Hatshepsut was found in the cache of royal mummies at Deir el Bahri, but her mummy was not found there. The box contained viscera, probably r from the mummification process, and a fragment of a tooth. The tomb of Hatshepsut’s wet nurse, Sitre-In, is labeled KV60 and contained two female mummies. One was found in a coffin inscribed for Sitre-In, the other was on the floor without a coffin. Despite the fact that her left arm was crossed over her chest in the gesture associated with royalty, the latter mummy was ignored while Sitre-In was taken to a museum. After all, there was little to suggest the glory of who this mummy had been in life- the body was of an obese woman around 50 years old, who suffered from severe gum disease and tooth decay, diabetes and advanced bone cancer.

In 1989, fragments from a gilt wooden coffin were found in KV60. This coffin had a notch for the attachment of a false beard of the type worn by pharaohs, which might suggest a pharaoh had once been buried there- but the bodies from the tomb were both women. Recent analysis of the mummy left in the tomb also showed that it was missing a tooth. When researchers compared it to the tooth fragment from the box inscribed for Hatshepsut, it proved to be an exact match. It was becoming evident that this mummy could be that of the legendary queen. The next step in the process is DNA analysis, which is currently being conducted. Preliminary tests have been “encouraging” in suggesting a relationship between this mummy and that of Ahmose-Nefertari, Hatshepsut’s grandmother.

The search for Hatshepsut’s mummy has led to the construction of a new DNA laboratory near the Cairo Museum, the first of its kind dedicated specifically to mummy studies. National Geographic Magazine also made Hatshepsut the cover story for its April issue. With all of this excitement and new possibilities for research, the results of this study will be widely anticipated and may solve one of ancient Egypt’s greatest mysteries.

Image Credits:

1. Wikimedia Commons: Hatshepsut, Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, c. 1473-1458 B.C. Indurated limestone sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,New York City. Photo by Postdlf

2. Wikimedia Commons: Schreibkraft and Luestling

3. At the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, you can see a model of Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri, and this blue cylinder bead inscribed with the queen’s throne name, Maatkare.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

International Museum Day Monday May 18

This Monday, May 18, is International Museum Day. In the Spirit of Community, our Museum offers free admission on this day!

Come and Enjoy the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, including

Interactive Audio-Visual Exhibits
Hidden Clues
Exploration of the Rock Cut Tomb Replica
Planetarium Show on the Mithraic Mysteries

Free on Monday May 18!

Open 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Gift Shop Closes at 4:30 pm
Planetarium Show at 2:00 pm
Research Library open 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

For more information, call 408-947-3635.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Who or what is a Miu, Pa-Miu, Ta-Miut or a Ta-Miit? The answer is a simple “meow,” as all of these names mean “cat” in ancient Egyptian. Miu or Pa-Miu is the male form for cat. Pa-Miu means “The Tomcat” and the other two words are the feminine forms for cat. The sun god Ra would sometimes take on the form of a large cat, being called the “Supreme Tomcat.” Miut and Miit were also given as personal nicknames, such as Miit being given to a five year child from the household of Mentuhotep.

No one knows exactly when cats became domesticated, but some experts believe it was about 10,000 years ago. The ancestors of the domestic cat were probably Libyan wildcats from North Africa and were much larger in size than those in Egypt today. Their fur was yellow-gray with striped markings. The markings provided camouflage that the cats needed to hide among the rocks and sands of the desert.

Perhaps as an act of gratitude or to tame them, the ancient Egyptians would leave morsels of food around for the cats to eat. Eventually the cats accepted the Egyptians and became an important part of their households. The Egyptians realized that cats were very skilled hunters and very adept at killing rats, mice and most importantly, poisonous snakes such as the cobra or the horned viper whose bites were usually deadly. This rodent hunting helped reduce the spread of diseases such as bubonic plague, typhoid, salmonella, and dysentery.

Cats also played a part in Egyptian medicine. The fat, fur and excrements of a male cat were used in medicine, while the placenta and the fur would be used from a female cat. A female cat’s fur, in combination with human milk and resin, could be applied to the skin to soothe burns. Feline placenta would be used in a lotion to keep the hair from turning gray. Cat fat, as well as other animal fats, was used in bandages as a remedy for stiffness. The fat of a tomcat rubbed over things was also guaranteed to keep the rodents away.

The Egyptians loved and pampered their cats. Even in times of famine, household cats would be well fed and cared for. They were routinely bathed and groomed and when mummified were rubbed in cedar oil and wrapped in linens. In Egypt, a Roman soldier was said to have accidentally killed a cat. As punishment, the soldier was killed by the townspeople. When a cat died, the inhabitants of the house where the cat had lived would shave their eyebrows in mourning. To this day, a cat’s home is still the streets, mosques and ancient temples of Egypt.
Cats were also much prized as subjects for mummification. ometimes this was to honor a household cat. In other circumstances, cats were routinely killed in order to be mummified as an offering to a deity, or for a burial.

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum has a collection of feline mummies, amid its other animal mummies. Several examples of cat mummies and coffins accompany this article. Visit the Museum in person or online to see these and more!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum!

Activities at the Museum for Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Every year since the spring of 1970, the U.S. and other countries have celebrated Earth Day, focusing attention on the environment and bringing awareness to our material impact worldwide. This day salutes the progress we have made towards greener living and serves as a platform to launch new initiatives.

At Rosicrucian Park, we are continually striving to do our part in decreasing our global footprint. We compost our yard clippings, use recycled materials, prohibit the use of pesticides, take public transportation, and more.

So get your green on and join us for fun-filled activities and tours here at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum on Earth Day:

10:30 am: Docent-led tour of Rosicrucian Park

12:00 Noon - 4:00 pm: The Museum will have a Garden Booth by the Rosicrucian Park's Central Fountain with ongoing activities, including:

  • A Powerpoint presentation on Ancient Egypt and Ecology

  • Coloring, Acrostics and other activities for kids of all ages

Welcome All!

For more information, call 408-947-3635.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is on Twitter!

The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is now on Twitter!

We have firmly entered the 21st century with the Museum's new Twitter entry


If you have a Twitter account, just set it up to "follow" us to receive updates daily on events at the Museum!

Our sister institution, the Rosicrucian Research Library, is also on Twitter too, at RCLibrarySJ. Follow both to learn about events at Rosicrucian Park.

The Twitter for The Rosicrucian Order, AMORC is AMORC.

To learn more about Twitter, the phenomenon that is all over the Internet, go to the Twitter site.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Upcoming Events for Spring/Summer at Rosicrucian Park 2009

Join the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum as we celebrate Earth Day, Astronomy Day, Spring in Guadalupe Gardens, and our Epagomenal Festival!

    April 22- Earth Day
    April 25- Spring in Guadalupe Gardens
    May 2- Astronomy Day
    May 18- International Museum Day
    July 14-18- Egyptian Epagomenal Days

Earth Day
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Museum and Park grounds

Every year since the spring of 1970, the U.S. and other countries have celebrated Earth Day, focusing attention on the environment and bringing awareness to our material impact worldwide. This day salutes the progress we have made towards greener living and serves as a platform to launch new initiatives. At Rosicrucian Park, we are continually striving to do our part in decreasing our global footprint. We compost our yard clippings, use recycled materials, prohibit the use of pesticides, take public transportation, and more. So get your green on and join us for fun-filled activities and tours here at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum on Earth Day!

Spring in Guadalupe Gardens
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Guadalupe Gardens
Between Coleman Avenue and Taylor Street

Located in Guadalupe Gardens, downtown San Jose, this annual festival celebrates Green Living, Earth Day and the great outdoors. Here, you will find more information on Spring in Guadalupe Gardens in addition to a schedule of activities. The event is family-friendly and includes entertainment for all ages, food, a live band and a raffle. Expert gardening advice and booths from a variety of organizations focusing on sustainability and the environment are also advertised.

This year, guests of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum’s booth are invited to partake in a Papyrus Planting activity. Each participant will receive a papyrus seed, potting soil and a biodegradable pot. As the seeds are planted, guests will learn about the importance of papyrus in ancient Egypt, particularly as a source for paper. Guests will also have the opportunity to write or stencil their names in Egyptian hieroglyphs on a piece of real papyrus paper. We will also have information available regarding the many uses of papyrus and fun facts about other ancient Egyptian plant products including frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon sticks.

Astronomy Day
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Museum and Planetarium

In 1973, Astronomy Day was started as a means to bring together astronomy enthusiasts, professional organizations, amateur astronomers, planetariums and the general public to converse on astronomy. Each year Astronomy Day falls on a different day between May and April in anticipation of the first quarter moon. Rosicrucian Park displays a great connection to Astronomy through our Planetarium. Every day at 2:00pm, with an additional showing at 3:30pm on the weekends, we feature “The Mithraic Mysteries”, a cosmological origin theory of the ancient Roman mystery religion known as Mithraism.

The Rosicrucian Planetarium, opened in 1936 is the fifth planetarium built in the United States and the first in history to feature an American-built star projector. H. Spencer Lewis, the founder of Rosicrucian Park, was an avid astronomer and his forays into science and mysticism can be seen in our Welcome Center exhibit, located in the Planetarium. In times more dangerous and uncertain than the present, ancient Egyptians would often look to the heavens for answers and explanations. Our Museum’s Kingship Gallery holds a replica of the Dendera Zodiac, one of the most complete and intriguing examples of ancient Egyptian cosmic conceptions. Please join us on May 2nd for an Astronomy-themed day of talks, tours and presentations in our Museum and Planetarium.

International Museum Day
Monday, May 18, 2009

Since 1977, museums around the world have celebrated International Museum Day. Developed by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), this is a day for the worldwide museum community to collectively interpret the past in light of the present to shape a better future and to bring attention to the importance of culture in our communities. The aim of this annual event is also to raise public awareness of the vital role museums play in society. Museums all over the world mark the occasion with open days, guided tours, public events and workshops. This year’s theme is “Museums and Tourism”. Please join us on International Museum Day for a variety of talks and tours on the intricacies of life and death in ancient Egypt. Admission is complimentary!

Epagomenal Festival
Saturday and Sunday July 18-19, 2009
Museum and Park grounds

The Epagomenal Festival in ancient Egypt marked the birthdays of the gods Horus, Osiris, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. The ancient Egyptian calendar traditionally consisted of 360 days, plus an additional 5 days “out of time” when the sky goddess Nut birthed her children. All over Egypt, celebrations filled with dancing, music and general merrymaking were held to commemorate these renowned, Nile-spanning Egyptian deities. In spirit of this ancient Egyptian tradition, the Museum will put on a weekend festival in its honor. In previous years we’ve held activities on henna, cooking, perfumes and cosmetics on the park grounds, Senet and other games in the gardens, special talks and tomb tours in the museum, planetarium activities and more. Please check back in the next few months for a full event list.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Dream of the Stars: A Brief Look at the Historic Rosicrucian Planetarium (Part 2)

The Rosicrucian Planetarium was the fifth built in the United States, and part of a very long tradition. Planetarium history begins during ancient Egypt and the tomb of Senenmut— the earliest known depiction of the sky. Nearly 2,200 years ago the Greek philosopher Archimedes (287–212 BCE) is credited with creating the first early planetarium device that could predict the movements of the Sun and the Moon as well as the planets. Today these devices are usually referred to as orreries. In fact, many planetariums today have what are called projection orreries (including ours) which project onto the dome the Sun and planets, usually those planets limited to the ones visible with the naked eye (Mercury - Saturn).

The first device that we might refer to as a true “planetarium," that is an enclosed area intended to observe an artificial sky, appears to have been a type of tent with holes punched in it so as to emulate the constellations as they appeared in the sky.

Originally designed and crafted by the Arabs of the 13th century, the device eventually came to Europe as a result of the Crusades. In 1229 the emperor Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen brought one such tent with him from a campaign in the Near East. Although none remain today and the details are limited, it seems that the viewer sat within, while a kind of rotating platform moved the tent around the individual.

The covering was perforated with tiny holes used to represent stars. The sky, the constellations and their motions could now be viewed during daylight hours. Over the next 600 years the same idea led to the making of various domes and globes for viewing the heavens above. The majority featured the same basic idea as the tent previously mentioned only the tent itself was replaced by a stationary domed building.

The first modern planetarium emerged from Germany in the in the early 20th century. In 1903, the German scholar, Oskar von Miller, began planning the German Museum in Munich. This museum was intended to celebrate the accomplishments of modern science and technology. It was also to feature a section dedicated to astronomy. Here the first modern star projector would replace forever the antiquated stationary domes of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The optical star projector as a concept is surprisingly simple. It revolves around the idea of a single globe punctured with holes to emulate the stars and their position in the sky, each hole fitted with a lens to amplify the light. A powerful bulb within the globe would therefore project the sky up on to a dome. Motors would rotate the unit so as to emulate the movement of the heavens. All of this sounds simple yet getting all the components to function together proved troublesome to its inventors.

The company responsible for the star projector's creation was the optical company Carl Zeiss located in Jena, Germany. Its creation however, as mentioned, would not be an easy task. In addition to the mechanical difficulties, the First World War and the economic crises plaguing the world at the time caused the project to be delayed for several years.

Finally in 1923 the German Museum’s planetarium powered by the Zeiss Model I projector opened to worldwide acclaim. This would become the prototype for all modern star projectors and planetariums over the ensuing 60 years.

When the Rosicrucian Planetarium opened in 1936, it included the first ever U.S.-built star machine designed and constructed by H. Spencer Lewis, and a team of engineers and scientists here at Rosicrucian Park. Regularly scheduled “star shows” began.

Today we have a modern Spitz projector powering our shows. Our Spitz system 512 projector is capable of projecting more then 1,300 stars onto the dome. The star machine also features latitudinal, daily, annual and precessional motions for the demonstration of various celestial phenomena. This model is in fact one of the most widely used in the world being installed in over 150 planetariums worldwide.

For over 70 years our Planetarium has faithfully served the community by bringing the wonders of the cosmos alive. Please feel free to join us for our current planetarium show The Mithraic Mysteries. This show plays daily at 2:00 pm with an additional showing at 3:30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to our show the planetarium is also home to the Rosicrucian Welcome Center, a fascinating exhibit on the history of Rosicrucian Park.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bes Jars

Bes was one of the most important gods of ancient Egypt, although few people have heard of him. Unlike the official forty-two state gods, Bes was a household god. He was easily identified by his curly beard and the knives or rattles that he wielded. He was portrayed as looking fierce and threatening, in order to ward off bad luck and evil. Before being given the name ‘Bes’, he was known as the demonic ‘Aha’, or fighter. He was thought to be able to strangle bears, lions, and snakes with his bare hands.

Originally being reserved solely as a protector of the king, he soon became a popular god of everyday ancient Egyptian people, and was often depicted on household items such as beds, chairs, mirrors, and walls. Bes protected the home, and the people of ancient Egypt would honor him in the hope of family protection.

Bes may be most well known though, for his protection of children, beginning at birth. Images of him were painted on walls of birthing rooms protecting both mother and child. If problems arose during labor, a clay statue of Bes was placed by the head of the mother, while protective spells were cast over her. Children throughout all of Egypt, both rich and poor, wore amulets of him in hopes of keeping accidents and illnesses at bay.

The ancient Egyptians believed in a principle called Ma’at, or balance in everything. Probably owing to this belief, Bes was not just associated with fierceness, but also entertainment, laughter, and happiness. He was thought to please and entertain children with singing and dancing, and is therefore depicted as both happy and jovial.

One of the most common depictions of Bes were jars decorated with his face. If a child were ill, milk would be given to them in one of these Bes jars. It was believed that the milk would turn to medicine and protect the child. If the child didn’t get well though, of course a doctor would be called. It was then not uncommon for the physician to offer medicine out of a Bes jar.

The final form of Bes jars came during the Roman period. Bes jars were no longer delegated to only children. Soldiers, believing that they were vulnerable, just like a child, often drank their beer rations out of Bes jars in hopes of protection from attacks.

The most important aspect of life to the ancient Egyptians was family. Ancient Egypt was a very dangerous place to live, with 30-50% of people not even making it to adulthood, due to disease, animal attacks, and more. Rather than feeling helpless to the dangerous conditions, Egyptians honored gods such as Bes to protect their family, therefore giving them a sense of control over their chaotic world.

-- Jen Slauter, Docent

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Ides of March

The Ides of March: Cleopatra VII’s Egypt at the Dawn of the Roman Imperial Era

On March 15th, 44 B.C.E. Julius Caesar was assassinated. The Ides of March has long been associated with the beginning of the juggernaut known as the Roman Empire, an empire that would span the Mediterranean and lay the foundations for much of our modern Western society. Yet this history-changing event would also lead to the downfall of Pharaonic Egypt and be seminal in the life of Cleopatra VII (image at left), the last Egyptian Pharaoh and one of the most famous personalities from the ancient world.

Descended from Ptolemy I Soter (Ptolemy “the savior”) who arrived with Alexander the Great’s army about 300 years prior, Cleopatra VII came from a Macedonian Greek lineage that would rule Egypt as monarchs who were sometimes out of touch with their people. Even though great building projects were undertaken during their time consistent with traditional Egyptian themes, the Ptolemies outwardly appeared more focused on their heritage across the Mediterranean. Their statuary was kept consistent with the idealistic yet still fluid representations of Greek Kings and Queens, while their living quarters, palaces, dining tendencies, writing and overall day to day life resembled that of their home country, until Cleopatra VII took the throne.

She was the only one of her dynasty recognized as having learned the ancient Egyptian language, Cleopatra often identified herself with the goddesses Isis and Hathor (Two very similar goddesses representing magic and love/beauty respectively), and held parades and rituals in traditional Egyptian style. Her statues were also portrayed in the age-old Pharaonic manner with the left foot forward, a straight and rigid body posture, the goddess Wadjet adorning her brow, and a stoic countenance.

During the rise of Rome’s military might, Cleopatra formed a political and personal union with the most celebrated and revered general of that country, Julius Caesar. Their alliance kept Cleopatra on the throne and Egypt free of Rome’s ever-expanding armies. The Egyptians were able to go about their lives as they had for millennia past. Unfortunately, Roman sympathies were not with Caesar and his new ally. Egypt, to the egalitarian Republic of Rome, was a land of absolute monarchy where the Pharaoh was a god incarnate and had unqualified say over the populace’s governance, morals and values. Caesar’s dalliance with Cleopatra caused the Romans to fear he would make himself King to her Queen, ruling by her side not only in Egypt but perhaps in Rome as well. These fears culminated on March 15th, 44 B.C.E., where Julius Caesar was mobbed and stabbed by a gang of Senators in Rome, leaving Cleopatra without her Roman connection.

Living in Rome at the time, Cleopatra fled back to Egypt with the angry sentiments of the Roman populace focused upon her. For the next few years she was able to hold Egypt’s sovereign position by forming an alliance with Marc Antony, another powerful Roman general. Ultimately though, Egypt and Cleopatra’s hopes for continued autonomy had died with Caesar. The Romans, fearing that another of their leaders had a taste for ultimate power, backed Caesar's nephew Octavian (later to become the first Roman Emperor, Augustus) in war against the partnership of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. Octavian invaded Egypt, and further expanded Rome into a true Empire.

He was successful, and with the death of both Marc Antony and Cleopatra, Egypt would become a province of Rome, and a new chapter in the history of Egypt was to begin. The Ides of March marked the beginning of the end for a governmental system that had persisted for close to 3,300 years. During the ensuing 600 years of Roman rule, Egyptian, Hellenistic and Roman culture would blend into a new, and ultimately Christian society, the Coptic culture.

In the Museum’s Kingship gallery stands a statue of Cleopatra VII, only one of seven that survive to this day. Please be sure to visit this magnificent testimony of this moment in history and enjoy an audio presentation of her story upon your next visit.

(above) Roman-Egyptian Mask (30 BCE - 4th century CE) Romans, like Egyptians, practiced a form of ancestor worship. This mask of a woman was probably venerated by her family. While it is of the Roman style, it does possess Egyptian traits. The top of the head is surmounted by a scarab beetle and solar disk for protection. The woman was probably of a prominent Romano-Egyptian family.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Dream of the Stars: A brief look at the historic Rosicrucian Planetarium (Part 1)

In 1936 a small group of esteemed guests and eager members of the community watched as Dr. H. Spencer Lewis opened the Rosicrucian Planetarium and Science Center for the first time to the public. Since then thousands more have visited in hopes of learning the mysteries of our universe. This historic building is the fifth planetarium built in the United States and the first in history to feature an American built star projector. Before its opening, planetariums were just starting to come to public attention and most were out of the way and difficult to get to. The Rosicrucian Planetarium made strides to bring the public closer to the stars.

Harvey Spencer Lewis and Mrs. May Banks-Stacey were the co-founders of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC in 1915, a non-profit organization which was heir to the Rosicrucian philosophical and initiatic tradition dedicated to the knowledge, understanding and betterment of one’s self, humanity and the planet. Lewis had been initiated into the Rosicrucian Tradition in Toulouse in 1909, 100 years ago this year, while Banks-Stacey had been initiated earlier in India.

The decision was made in 1927 to bring AMORC's headquarers to San Jose in the hopes that it would blossom and flourish in this wonderful environment, and flourish it did. Soon Rosicrucian Park would become a city center for culture, science and art, a distinction we still hold today. As the park expanded so did H. Spencer Lewis’s dream.

One of the most striking aspects of our Planetarium is its unique design. The high arching doorways and windows along with the spired dome are all elements of North African architecture. This style is most commonly seen throughout the Near East and in other parts of the Islamic world. The Planetarium was designed by Lewis as a tribute to the Arab astronomers of old, widely recognised as the parents of modern astronomy.

Greeting you as you walk through the front doors is our Foucault's pendulum. The Foucault's pendulum's namesake was Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (1819-1868), a French physicist. While physicists had known about the rotation of the Earth for some time, Foucault's Pendulum was the first proof that people could duplicate it in an easy experiment, winning it much attention.

The Pendulum works in a very specific way. If you set the pendulum moving, the direction of its swing will change very slowly over the course of the day because of the rotation of the earth. This is called the Coriolis Effect. However, this is not the whole story. The pendulum is not actually changing direction... it is "trying" to continue swinging in the same direction as it started, despite the turning of the earth beneath it. If the pendulum were placed at the North or South Pole, it would continue swinging in the same fixed direction compared to the stars as the earth turned freely below it. The pendulum would therefore (as we see it) make one entire rotation per day. At other latitudes, its rotation is slower. A Foucault's pendulum does not work at the equator.

This is a wonderful experiment, but air resistance and the force of gravity will eventually stop even a large pendulum like ours. The Coriolis Effect will not help the pendulum keep swinging; it simply affects the direction of the swing.

That is where our clever motor comes in. At the very top of the pendulum is a magnetic ring. Every time the pendulum swings through the center position, a sensor determines its direction and gives it a gentle magnetic "push" in precisely the same direction--just enough to keep the pendulum from slowing down, without altering its direction and affecting the Coriolis Effect. You can swing the pendulum when the motor is turned off and observe precisely the same effect. The only difference is the pendulum will slow down and eventually stop swinging after an hour or two.

Please check back in the next few weeks for Part 2 of our Planetarium’s History and other articles dealing with Rosicrucian Park, the Museum and the ancient world.

In the meantime, please feel free to join us for our current planetarium show The Mithraic Mysteries. This show plays daily at 2:00 pm with an additional showing at 3:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to our show the planetarium is also home to the Rosicrucian Welcome Center, a fascinating exhibit on the history of Rosicrucian Park.

CHICKPEA SALAD: A Refreshing Treat!

Reconstructing the ancient Egyptian diet may at first seem challenging. The ancient Egyptian culture combined with Roman culture during the first six centuries of the first millennium CE. The Empire ruled first from Rome, and then from Constantinople after the mid-4th century. A distinctive Coptic culture emerged: an inheritance of the ancient Egyptian culture with Hellenistic influence and increasingly Christian through the first six centuries of the current era.

While a few detailed documents remain of ancient Egyptian activities and industries (as in the Medical Papyri), we have no such comprehensive resource for food preparation. It is only in rare instances that we have a full recipe preserved, as is the case with “Date Candy,” found etched on a piece of broken pottery to about 1600 BCE. In order to recreate what they ate, we instead rely on a diverse array of sources including temple records, tomb paintings, food remains in tombs, and ethnographic examples from past and present Egyptian eras.

Chickpea Salad is a reconstruction based mainly on this latter category. A popular and refreshing dish from Egypt’s Coptic, Islamic and modern periods, this salad combines a few simple native Egyptian and imported ingredients from the past 4,000 years.

Ingredients (the basics):

  • 1 can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) (15 oz.)
  • 1 ½ cup coarsely chopped Cucumbers
  • 1 ½ cup chopped Tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped Red Onions
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled Feta Cheese
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup Vinegar
Ingredients (optional):
  • Celery, Garlic, Salt & Pepper, chopped Parsley, and plain yogurt. Large leaf lettuce for optional serving suggestion. Eat with Pita bread.
  1. Mix olive oil and white wine vinegar
  2. Add in drained garbanzo beans with oil/vinegar mix and let sit for 5 minutes
  3. Add in cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and feta
  4. Add in any optional ingredients desired
  5. Mix well and enjoy!
Serving Suggestion:
  • Spoon mixture into a bowl lined with large lettuce leaves, as in the photos.