This morning we visited the Louvre. Whatever one thinks of I.M. Pei’s pyramid in the Cour Napoléon, the underground complex of entrance hall and intercommunicating passageways works brilliantly at dispersing the crowds and avoiding massive bottlenecks. Since we were supposed to be on the Nile this week, we went to the Egyptian section. There is the obligatory selection of monuments, mummies, sphinxes and hieroglyphic slabs – indeed, I was going to illustrate this post with a picture of a wonderful statue of Horus. But what makes this section particularly interesting is a selection of artefacts designed to illustrate the daily life of the Egyptians, with everything from bathroom mirrors to dice, and from chairs to beds. I can never get over the fact that, preserved by the dryness of the desert, many of the carved wooden objects are over two thousand years old and yet in perfect condition, the colours of the paintings as vivid, one imagines, as the day they were done. So I have chosen to illustrate this post with a truly exquisite object. It is a floating soapholder (the soap went on the duck’s back), over two thousand years old.