Some of the world's most renowned and priceless artifacts will be on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through November 15, 2005.
This extensive exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, marks the first time the treasures of King Tut have visited America in 26 years.
The previous American tour attracted over eight million visitors. The current American tour will continue until September, 2007.
The exhibition stars more than 50 major artifacts excavated by Howard Carter in 1922 from King Tut's undisturbed burial tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. Most of these objects have never before left Egypt.
Viscera Coffin: Tutankhamun possessed four miniature coffins, each about 18 inches tall, fashioned of gold and inlaid with colored glass and semi-precious stones,
which held his mummified internal organs. This particular coffinette held Tut's liver. The band of inscriptions running down the front names the god,
Imseti and the goddess, Isis, who would protect the deceased and their remains. Photo by Andreas F. Voegelin, Antikenmuseum Basel and Sammlung Ludwig.
Reproduction is prohibited without permission.)
The exhibition's highlights five fabulous golden objects found with King Tut's mummy. These include the royal diadem, a solid gold crown discovered
around the king's mummified head; a solid gold dagger with a solid gold sheath; a falcon carved in sheet gold which hung from the king's neck; a
huge broad collar consisting of semiprecious stones inlaid on gold which lay on his chest; and the solid gold cobra from the peak of his headdress.
Also displayed is one of four miniature viscera coffins made of gold and carved into the famous head figure we all associate with
Egyptian Pharaohs. Certain markings on the viscera coffin indicate that it once belonged to another deceased Egyptian. Historians suspect that it
was "appropriated" because of the suddenness of King Tut's death.
"Buried with him were treasures beyond the imagination, giving us a glittering glimpse into the past," says Zahi Hawass,
secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. "It has been almost 30 years since the golden artifacts of the boy-king
last left their home in Egypt. Now Tutankhamun is back, giving a new generation the chance to learn firsthand about the life and magic of this ancient monarch."
Scarab Pectoral: The pectoral, an ornament worn on the chest, consists of semiprecious stones inlaid into solid gold and spelling out the name
of the king. It is about four inches across. The scene depicts the scarab deity pushing the newborn sun god into the eastern sky and symbolizes
the rebirth of the king in the afterlife. Photo by Andreas F. Voegelin, Antikenmuseum Basel and Sammlung Ludwig.
Reproduction is prohibited without permission.)
Perhaps even more compelling than the gold artifacts and statuary were the more mundane but exquisitely decorated wooden objects such as boxes,
chests and chairs. Despite being wood, they looked like new after thousands of years. One chair had a perfectly preserved wicker seat.
The exhibit includes more than 70 artifacts from other royal graves of the 18th Dynasty, dating from 1555-1305 B.C. The 18th Dynasty is about
at the midpoint of ancient Egypt's empire that extended from about 3000-30 B.C. Tutankhamun himself was a "boy king" who ruled from 1332-1322 B.C.
and died at about the age of 19. All the treasures in the exhibit are therefore 3,300-3,500 years old.
Also showcased are items from the intact, non-royal tomb of Yuya and Tuyu, the great-grandparents of King Tut. Discovered in 1904, this was the first
ancient Egyptian tomb found intact. Because it was not a royal tomb, there were fewer exotic gold items such as were found in King Tut's tomb. Some highlights
include Tuyu's golden death mask and her gold plated coffin. (By contrast, King Tut's coffin which is in Egypt was made of solid gold.)
Many everyday items were also placed in the Egyptian tombs and are on display here. The Egyptians believed the deceased were simply
transitioning to the afterlife and would still need their possessions. These included such mundane items as dog collars and perfume.
For things that were impractical to put inside a tomb, models were built. Examples include foodstuffs, boats, and even a folding
stool that didn't really fold. Figurines known as "shabti" were placed in the tomb. These represented people the deceased might
need, such as servants. Some even represented the deceased themselves.
Images are provided by the exhibit's sponsor, the National Geographic Society, as well as film footage and other interpretive materials.
The innovative program lets visitors explore and experience the life and times of King Tut and his contemporaries. For younger children, the
Boone Children's Gallery is featuring "The Pharaoh's World" at no additional charge.
After closing in Los Angeles, the show will move on to Fort Lauderdale, Chicago and Philadelphia. Those who wish to view the exhibit at any venue
should definitely purchase tickets in advance. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For complete information, including ticket purchases and the
tour schedule, visit www.kingtut.org.