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The King is back!

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Tut
King Tutankhamun’s funerary figure. Photo courtesy of the Tut exhibit
It’s been 34 years since King Tut visited Seattle.

At that time, 1.3 million people viewed the blockbuster exhibit, which made a major impact on the city and undeniably left a memorable impression on all those who had the opportunity to feast their eyes on the incredible array of cultural treasures.

Now, back for its final North American showing, “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” is ready to wow a whole new generation.

The exhibition, which recently opened at Pacific Science Center after months of preparation, renovation and anticipation, is more than double the size of the original exhibit that toured in the 1970s.

It features nearly 150 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb and ancient sites representing some of the most important rulers throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history.

Many of the objects haven’t toured in the U.S. before and after the show closes at the beginning of 2013, they will never be seen again in this country.

Pacific Science Center is hosting the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition as part of its 50th anniversary celebration and expects it to be extremely popular, not only with local residents, but with individuals from all over the region.

The exhibit consists of 10 galleries, chockfull of wondrous artifacts that tell a captivating story ending with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by British explorer Howard Carter.

Visitors are transported back in time as they come face to face with statues of the pharaohs from the Middle and New Kingdoms.

In “Pharaoh’s Court,” the 10-foot-tall figure of King Tut, found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials, is an imposing sight.

Another gallery, “Pharaoh’s Religion and Gods,” contains statues of some of the hundreds and hundreds of deities, whose images came from the Egyptian environment, including the well-known Osiris, ruler of the underworld.

“Pharaoh’s Gold” has perhaps the most dazzling items on display, including gold collars, cups, vases, necklaces and masks.

An extraordinary gold death mask that covered the head and chest of the mummy of King Psusennes I takes center stage.

It is interesting to note that gold, glittering and enduring, was believed by the Egyptians to be comprised of the skin of their gods.

The latter part of the exhibition focuses on the discovery of the tomb, an event that shook the world, as no one thought there was anything left to find in the Valley of the Kings.

But, on November 4, 1922, Howard Carter came across the first of 16 steps of a carved stairway that led to a corridor and ended at a sealed doorway.

Tut's sandals
King Tut’s golden sandals. Photo courtesy of Tut exhibit
Beyond, lay the final resting place of the boy king.

Carter unearthed 5,000 objects in the ensuing ten years within the four rooms of the tomb: antechamber, annex, treasury and burial chamber.

There is a gallery devoted to each of these rooms in the exhibition with a host of eye-ogling artifacts.

In the antechamber, one of Tut’s seven beds can be seen, along with some of his jewelry and a Cartouche-shaped box with his name on it.

The annex contains such pieces as one of Tut’s chairs, a wooden game box with all of its pieces intact and several limestone and quartzite Shabtis or funerary figures, which were used to replace the pharaoh in the afterlife when the call came for forced labor.

A model of a wooden boat is on display in the treasury gallery. Carter found 35 ship models in the tomb, each of which was believed to magically become full-sized and functional in the afterlife.

The burial chamber, which tells the story of Carter revealing the mummy, is where you’ll find the famous golden sandals that covered Tut’s feet.

They are decorated to look like woven reeds and were created specifically for the afterlife.

A striking cobra collar of gold, which was found on the thorax of the mummy, is also of note, along with a beautiful fan made of ebony, wood, gold and glass.

DNA studies from 2010 now reveal that the boy king, who died at a young age, had necrosis, a bone disease in his foot.

Additionally, he suffered from malaria.

Both conditions may have contributed to his early demise, which subsequently led to his hasty burial in a small, unadorned tomb.Scholars claim that for the Egyptians, Tut did not exist.

No funerary cult was created to keep his memory alive, yet it is his tiny tomb, his banned name and his buried treasures that are the first to come to mind when people hear of Egypt’s pharaohs.Ironically, Tut, unlike any other king, attained an eternal afterlife. And his memory continues to live on.

“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” runs through January 6, 2013, at Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

Two related documentary IMAX films will play during the run of the exhibition: “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs” and “Mysteries of Egypt.”

Additionally, PSC is presenting a special lecture series at Town Hall this fall, featuring internationally renowned scholars who will share their expertise and discoveries about Egyptian art and archaeology.

For exhibit and ticket information: www.pacificsciencecenter.org.

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