|The monument at its full height|
After the twenty mile drive from lunch, I turned off the highway and drove down Independence Parkway, through massive drum-shaped oil containers and the Texas-themed banners. Off in the distance, I could spy the large column monument as I noticed scenes of the Texas War of Independence painted on the sides of the containers.
I arrived that the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. The site commemorates battle of San Jacinto which after the Battle of the Alamo and “Runaway Scrape” in Washington-on-the-Brazos cemented Texas’ independence from Mexico.
Sam Houston and his poorly trained Texans were at a strategic loss after these military defeats and could not continue against General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the President of Mexico, and his troops without an advantage.
Advantageously, Houston and his men arrived at Buffalo Bayou around the location where the loop 610 currently crosses the waterway. There they learned that Santa Anna was camping further downstream, separate from the bulk of the Mexican army, and Houston and the Texas troops were able to capture Mexican provisions to provide desperately needed supplies.
|A close up looking up the column|
After three days on April 21, 1836, about 500 more Mexican troops arrived in the morning, Houston sent men to destroy a bridge to delay any reinforcements. That afternoon Houston assembled his troops and sprung the frontal assault using the element of surprise, while two other group of Texans flanked the Mexican camp. The Texans advanced to within 300 yards of the Mexicans before they hollered "Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!" and the battle ensued. By the end of the day, Houston was wounded and nine Texans and 630 Mexicans died or were mortally wounded. Houston had handed Santa Anna a tremendous defeat, though the Mexican President had managed to escape. Not risking Santa Anna’s regrouping with the remaining Mexican army, Houston sent out scouts and they captured the President who was disguised as a private by noon the following day. With his capture, Santa Anna ordered his troops to withdraw from Texas, securing independence for the Republic of Texas.
Today, at the battle site, the over 567-foot high column stands to commemorate this decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. It is the world's tallest monumental column and is home to the San Jacinto Museum of History, which focuses on the history of the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas culture and heritage. The monument has an observation deck located immediately below the 220-ton Lone Star of Texas which offers northern, western and southern view including vistas of Houston, the USS Texas and the Houston Ship Channel.
|Outside the MFAH|
Harrison Ford welcomes you with a narration introducing Tutankhamun - the Golden King and the Great Pharaohs. Anxious and excited, I can’t wait for the reveal. After Ford’s preamble, the exhibit is opened to us and we enter in awe.
Hours before I sat in a lecture with David Silverman, the Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr. Professor of Egyptology and Curator of Penn Museum's Egyptian Section. He is one of the leading authorities on ancient Egypt and its civilization. Dr. Silverman was the national curator, advisor, and academic content creator for the blockbuster exhibition "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, ” and he was also responsible for the curatorial content in the original 1977 "Treasures of Tutankhamun.” This man knows his Egyptology.
He addressed the small group of us on work as the curator of Tutankhamun - the Golden King and the Great Pharaohs and we followed onto his an additional lecture about the Curse of the Pharaohs. His thought and grand scheme that went into planning the exhibit was beyond compare. While it’s obvious that a great exhibit has a compelling story and good layout, this was an extraordinary exhibit. The attention to detail was impressive.
|This is the behemoth statue|
The division of the show between the accounts of Tutankhamun’s father, Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaten) through to Pharaohs beyond and the drama of entering Tut’s tomb to learn about the phenomenal articles found in the burial chamber is set up by Bill Kurtis’ exhilarating reading that represent you virtually with the sixteen steps into Tut’s tomb.
The exhibit hosts many wonders from ancient Egypt including a behemoth statue of Tutankhamun standing about 17 feet tall from his tomb (that eerily looks like Michael Jackson a la "Remember the Time."); King Tut’s golden sandals; the funerary mask of Psusennes I, an amazingly detailed golden mask covering the head, chest and shoulders of the mummy of Psusennes; and the collar of Princess Neferuptah, a wide collar of 6 rows of alternating feldspar and carnelian beads finished with two falcon head fastens discovered on the body of Neferuptah, daughter to Amenhotep III.
|Funerary mask of Psusennes I|
While the mysteries of Tut may have not all be answered, the treasure of Golden King and the Great Pharaohs leave an indelible mark on the visitor.
Tutankhamun pictures courtesy of Dr. David Silverman.