Across our nation, classes have begun.  Even when you receive your diploma, your education is not yet over.  Throughout our lives, we are always learning.  Museums are one of the many places where we can learn outside of the classroom.  At the Newark Museum, there are many exhibits about African art that change to keep the public’s interest.  There is a permanent exhibit on the first floor of the Newark Museum, the wooden coffin of Henet-Mer.

All of my life, I have always been interested in Egyptian art and culture ever since I was a child.  I remember sitting in the library and being fascinated with books about Egypt.  I especially enjoyed reading books about the pyramids and looking at photos of pyramids.

The pyramids, which were invented by the Egyptians, are as mysterious as the hands that created them.  Every year, tourists come to Egypt to visit the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Step Pyramid and the The Sphinx among many other wonders.

Pyramids are the sacred burial places of Ancient Egyptians.  Since Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death, they had many special artifacts, relics and other items that a king or queen would need after their death in order to rule in the next life.  Today, the coffins of Ancient Egyptians, as well as other prized items contained in the tomb, are considered to be works of art.  One of the most famous Egyptians tombs that was excavated was Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Like Tutankhamen was one of Egypt’s most popular kings, Cleopatra was one of Egypt’s most well-known queens.  Inspired by the story of Cleopatra, Shakespeare wrote his famous play, ‘Anthony and Cleopatra.’  With her mysterious eyes, beauty and mystique, Elizabeth Taylor mesmerized audiences with her portrayal of Cleopatra, in the the 1963 film Cleopatra, opposite Richard Burton.

After hearing stories of Cleopatra and how well she ruled Egypt, I found myself completely absorbed in my history classes during my primary school years.   She supervised the construction of several temples to Egyptian and Greek gods, a synagogue for the Jews in Egypt, and even built the Caesareum of Alexandria among many other duties.  Ahead of her time, she was a strong and intelligent ruler with an open mind.

I am dressed up as Cleopatra for Halloween. [Image by my mom, Serafina Santos]

I am dressed up as Cleopatra for Halloween. [Image by my mom, Serafina Santos]

I will never forget one very special Halloween when I actually got dressed up as Cleopatra.  My mother, who loved to sew, created my costume and added colorful sequins to the light brown garment.  My father painted the garment with Egyptian pharaohs and queens.  At school, my costume caught everyone’s attention.  I actually felt like I was really Queen Cleopatra.

When I took my DNA test, I discovered that my connection to the Egyptians was more than just a childhood dream.  I have 1 percent ancestry from North Africa.  I am also 1 percent Bantu.  The term, “Bantu” means people.  During Ancient times, the Bantu people were in Egypt.

Since the Ancient Egyptians were a very intelligent civilization, I am proud to have 2 percent African roots.  The Egyptians made many discoveries that are still useful today.  Every time you look at your watch or calendar, you should be thankful to the Egyptians.  It was the Egyptians who invented the calendar.  They also fabricated sun clocks and water clocks.

You should also thank the Egyptians for helping to unleash the writer within you. They fabricated papyrus sheets, which became the most valuable writing material in the Ancient world.  They also invented hieroglyphics and black ink.

Doctors and patients should also be grateful to the Egyptians.  They invented surgical instruments and medical surgery.  They also fabricated toothpaste.  Many medical instruments that they used are exhibited at the Cairo Museum.  Thanks to their discovery, many lives are saved today.

Believing in law and order, the Egyptians also invented the police.  They were a very organized civilization who believed in justice.  Around the world, police still help us keep safe today.

During Ancient times, the faces of Queen Nefertiti and Queen Cleopatra were two of the most beautiful faces in the world.  Makeup, an Egyptian invention, enhanced their natural beauty.  In Ancient Egypt, both men and women wore eye makeup.  They believed that eye makeup could cure eye diseases.  They also thought that they could protect themselves from getting the evil eye by wearing eye makeup.  Today makeup makes women worldwide even more beautiful.

Every time you wear a wig to change your look, you should thank the Egyptians.  They invented wigs adding beauty to our lives and making us look mysterious.

Since they believed in an afterlife, the Egyptians invented the pyramids that served as the final resting places of their beloved.  In the tombs, they placed relics for their kings and queens that they could use in the next life.  In fact, the relics and artifacts contained in Egyptian tombs are works of art.  The Ancient Egyptian word for tomb is defined as ‘House of Eternity.’  In order to preserve the bodies of their deceases, the Ancient Egyptians invented mummification.

Of all the wonders that the Egyptians invented, the pyramids are their most popular creation.  Every year tourists travel to Egypt to see the pyramids that light up with every ray of sunshine.  Even the sun becomes mystifying when it shines on the pyramids.  Known for its many mysterious, Egypt is a country will many secrets not yet discovered.