Shrunken heads at the San Diego Museum of Man

San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

San Diego Historical Landmarks

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3

El Prado Area Designation

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next to the California Tower is a huge dome:

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Under the Dome (you’re welcome, Stephen King), is the Museum of Man where the history of man is documented from his earliest primate appearances to what might be in store for our future, and everything in between. There are permanent exhibits and rotating exhibits. Here is some of what I saw on my visit:

Stella and zoomorphs at the San Diego Museum of Man

A stella is a tall shaft of carved stone usually incorporating a calendar depicting a lengthy period of time, a sculptured portrait of a ruler, and hieroglyphic texts recounting historical, mythological, and astronomical events. The are three stella in the center of the picture.

Zoomorphism is the shaping of something in animal forms or terms. For example, “Russel is a real dodo bird.” Zoomorphs often are boulder-like, so the two zoomorphs in the picture are at the left and right. The zoomorph at the left depicts the “Cosmic Monster,” a mythical waterbeast that swam in the primordial sea of the Underworld.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Peruvian mummy at the San Diego Museum of Man

The Peruvian mummy is from Lupo, Peru, and is about 550 years old. To me it looks like it was frightened out of its skin, so to speak. It is a result of natural mummification which can occur in a perpetually dry or frozen climate, as long as a few other conditions are also present.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Shrunken heads at the San Diego Museum of Man

When an enemy was killed in battle, he would be decapitated and have his head shrunk.

To create a shrunken head:

Peel the skin and hair carefully from the skull; discard the skull.
Turn the skin inside out, clean, and simmer in a large pot of water.
Turn the skin right-side-out and sew the bottom, lips, and eyes shut.
Fill the head with hot sand or pebbles and smoke over a fire to complete the drying and shrinking.

After the face was burnished and dyed black, the victorious warrior would wear the shrunken head on a cord around his neck to transfer any remaining power of the dead warrior to the victor and his family.

I think I would have found a different tribe to belong to.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

"Lucy" reconstruction at the San Diego Museum of Man

Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, Australopithecus afarensis. It was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression. She is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago, and the several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton was an astonishing discovery that provided an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence. Lucy was named after The Beatle’s song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which was playing loudly and repeatedly on a tape recorder in the camp when Lucy was brought in. She was about 3’7″ tall and weighed about 64 pounds. Lucy’s arms and fingers indicated that she spent time in the trees, but her spine, pelvis, knee, and foot bones, as well as her having a case of “knock knees,” indicated that she walked upright.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The missing cartouche of Nefertiti at the San Diego Museum of Man

The San Diego Museum of Man’s Armana Collection provided one of the most exciting finds relating to Egyptian studies. The Armana Collection was given to the Museum of Man by Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932). Ellen was a great philanthropist, well-known to audiences throughout Southern California. Some of her major philanthropic gestures include founding or subsidizing the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla Women’s Club, Scripps Aquarium, Torrey Pines State Park, Scripps Memorial Hospital, Scripps College in Claremont California, Bishop’s School in La Jolla, and the La Jolla Public Library.

This limestone fragment has the missing cartouche of Nefertiti at the left center of the limestone fragment. A cartouche is an oval with a horizontal line erected at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name. Cartouches came into use during the beginning of Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu.

In September 1996, Egyptologist Dr. W. Raymond Johnson discovered that the limestone fragment in the Museum of Man’s collection fit perfectly into a blank area at the bottom right of a shrine in Egypt from the House of Panehsy, Akhenatan’s High Priest. The shrine, now almost complete, is one of the most important stone monuments ever discovered at Armana.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Museum of Man has a Children’s Discovery Center where a periaktoi is displayed on the wall:

Peraktoi at the San Diego Museum of Man

Peraktois were wall puzzles owned by wealthy Egyptian families to keep their children occupied. The puzzles were made of rotating triangles, providing three separate puzzles:

Peraktoi at the San Diego Museum of Man

If you were creative like me, you could create a puzzle within a puzzle. Compare the following to the first periaktoi picture above.

Peraktoi at the San Diego Museum of Man

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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44 thoughts on “San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4

  1. kelihasablog

    Great photos and good information to explain… The mummy was certainly strange.. It does look like it was scared to death, literally. Love Zoey’s latest stamp picture 😀

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Really, although I remember the movie “Star Trek: The Voyage Home” where Dr. McCoy commented about the 20th Century medical practices: “Barbaric!” I suppose in 500 years even today’s modern medicine will look barbaric.

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  2. jeaninjackson

    I grew up playing in Balboa Park and visiting the museums. My favorite was the space museum. It was different years ago. We use play at the international cottages while our Mother hung out with her friends. Thanks for the memories.. Our uncle would take us to the ferris wheel after a romp through the zoo.. do you have a shot of it ? and the little train next to it ?

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  3. tchistorygal

    You are creative, Russel Ray! Modest, too! What an informative post! The mummy is haunting. I wonder what happened that caused such fear? And it had to be someone fairly young. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get my legs to stay like that while my hands are up on my face!!! 🙂 Great post! 🙂

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      1. tchistorygal

        That would make sense! I still think she must have been young. What a horrifying expression she had. Did you hear about the poor guy in FL who was in bed when the sink hole hit? And then this morning I heard about two children who were were found buried alive when the ground caved in under them.

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  4. Naomi Baltuck

    In Seattle, at the Pacific Science Center, we had a whole exhibit about Lucy, which was fascinating. It included background and peripheral history of Ethiopia. Your post included the sort of history and fun facts that I just love.

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  5. Pingback: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado area designation, part 5 | Russel Ray Photos

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