domingo, julho 15, 2012


Klimt mural at the ceiling of the Kunshistorisches
I have just returned from another very productive week abroad. The purpose of the trip was, initially, just to attend the 7th International Workshop for African Archaeobotany.

Vienna seemed a very good choice as there is the KLIMT commemorations and I just love his work!
Catalogue of the exhibition
Later in my plans the option to extend the trip to Leiden came as I saw that the Rijksmuseum is having a special exhibition on Gardens of the Pharaohs.

So this would make a very green trip...

I arrived on Sunday night and started my sightseeing excursion on Monday. After 3pm we could already register for the conference so I went there and saved myself some sleeping time tomorrow... I hope the people and the presentations are good.

The result was even better...On the first day of the conference, Tuesday (where all the speakers were presenting wok in Egypt), we had a special tour of the Botanical Gardens with its Direktor, Prof. Michael Kiehn!

I had special pleasure in meeting Prof. Cappers at the conference, as he is a specialist on ancient Egyptian plants and has worked in Egypt for many years. And he has a new book, which is a real manual for those interested in plants from ancient Egypt!

I also had the chance of visiting exquisite collections and buildings such as the Belvedere, the Leopold Museum, the Mozarthaus, Freud Museum, Theatre Museum, and the Kunsthistorisches, which has a fabulous Egyptian collection of course!

Klimt with his cat (one of them)
I was amazed by certain details of Klimt's personal life, I learned more about plants from ancient Egypt, and plants from Asia in the Botanical Gardens. I also admired the beautiful and big buildings of Vienna, and enjoyed nice lunches at Italian restaurants (sorry for that!)...:))

Wooden headrest from a private collection
I just have to mention the lack of skills from the lady organizing the conference, as she is not too much into communication...they changed the programme at the end of the first day... (I left as soon as the guy from the publisher came, bought the book from Prof. Cappers and went to the Botanical Gardens earlier).

Another specialist I met at this conference was Dr. Victoria Asensi Amoros, who is a specialist on wood in ancient Egypt. I jumped with excitement when she referred ancient Egyptian gods and their relationship to plants and mentioned Osiris and tamarisk, for example. Exactly my point. So we chatted about this and that at the coffee break.

Fringe version of the organizer
On the second day I was not planning to go to the conference as the afternoon workshop was cancelled (the thing that gives the name to the meeting is cancelled as the microscopes to analyze plant remains have been scheduled to another project, leaving almost 30 people with a free afternoon, and no workshop).
So the conference would only be happening in the morning and I have no interest in banana production or anything else from Africa that is not related to Egypt.
There was the dinner party on this day, but since I spent the day in museums and crossing town (Vienna has one week of 38 Celsius and I was just there to catch it), I went to the hotel to change for dinner but exhaustion beat me...and I could not go out again.

So, I had no contact with anyone until the third day, on which I reached the Department of the University where we were having the conference (the last on campus, so you have to cross the whole campus under the sun) to a room with no air conditoning (and the auditorium at the Botanical Gardens was free...the University holds the two departments), to find the conference ended the day before! A simple email would be good...

Well, another day for sightseeing! But a revelation of the inadequacy of organizing skills...

Hortus Botanicus Leiden
Next stop: Leiden.

Besides minor disrupments regarding flights and stop-overs, which put another airline on my red list (not-to-fly-again), I reached Leiden and prepared myself for another green day.

On Saturday I met my dear friend and colleague Renate at the Rijksmuseum and we checked the Egyptian Collection (once again) and the Gardens exhibition for the first time.
I immediately noticed that the 'garden' had no labels for trees showing in the maquette. I have this week written to the person who did this garden of Akhenaten and asked him which trees were represented there (as some I could identify macroscopically) and how does he know Akhenaten had those trees in his garden.
I got a reply: you need my book.

After the gardens' exhibition we had a great luch at the Botanical Gardens and went to visit those after lunch.
Another wonderful afternoon!

Antimony box XVIIth century
After that we went to the Boerhaave Museum but it was was already 5pm! I had no idea...
We finished our day with a tasty pancake and parted ways.

On the next day, I was flying back, but only in the evening, so I returned to the Boerhaave and got to see the exquisite medical and scientific collections it has displayed there.

Carl Linnaeus is depicted along with some plant drawings, but I saw him the day before already at the Botanical Gardens.

Gardens of the Pharaohs exhibited piece
Got pics from plant remains, notes on excavations going on in Egypt, and had the chance to meet specialists, brought some catalogues, it was really a good trip!

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