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Rediscover the tomb of Tutankhamun

Rediscover the tomb  of Tutankhamun
Photo courtesy of Andreas F. Voegelin, Antikenmuseum Basel and Sammlung Ludwig
Aug. 16, 2010
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
King Tutankhamun has captivated the attention of the modern world since archeologist Howard Carter discovered his tomb in 1922.
"The Boy King," only 19 years old when he died mysteriously in 1323 B.C.E., swiftly became the poster child for the wonders of the ancient world, not because he was the wealthiest or most powerful pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty but because his tomb, unlike others in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, was discovered virtually untouched by man or time.
More than 130 artifacts from his tomb and those of his ancestors are currently on display in "King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" at the Discovery Times Square Exhibition in New York City through Jan. 2, 2011. Fifty of the artifacts were chosen from more than 5,000 buried with The Boy King.
The exhibit, designed by Mark Lach, takes viewers through a linear snapshot of King Tut's lineage, life and legacy that can be appreciated by children and adults alike.
"It's amazing to see how people lived and to make that connection [to 2010]," Lach said.
He compared Egyptian representations of Tut as "an ancient version of PhotoShop -- a rarely accurate representation of a living god." Lach equated Tut's board games to those of today's XBox and his exploits driving a chariot to those of a motocross biker.
Lach aimed to "walk the fine line between theatrical and environmental elements," creating a stimulating blend of ancient artifacts and today's technology.
Looping video on flat screen televisions, photographs and slide projections are just some of the technological elements used to support the viewer's education and appreciation of the exhibit's ancient artifacts.
The show begins with a two-minute video behind the outer door to his tomb. When the lights come up, audiences see a single spotlight illuminating a granite statue of The Boy King, inviting them to enter into his world.
Initial galleries display artifacts chronicling Tut's legacy from his great grandfather to his father, Akhenaten, to his two stillborn daughters with wife and half-sister Ankhesenamun.
The exhibit's progression of Tut's reign to his death is illustrated with various artifacts including the canopic coffinette that housed his liver and a royal canopic bust, which served as a stopper for one of the canopic chests that contained his vital organs.
A subsequent gallery replicates Tut's coffins and outer shrines. A projector inserted in the ceiling produces slides of The Boy King's mummified remains and multiple death masks placed one inside the other onto a black rectangular chest below; the chest is surrounded by gold rectangles laid into the gallery floor to illustrate each of the outer shrines, built one inside of the other.
On display adjacent to the mock coffin is Tut's golden diadem (a crown) found on the king's mummy, inlaid with glass and semi-precious stones and two protective deities, the cobra and the vulture. Also found on his mummy and included in the exhibit is his golden pectoral in the shape of a falcon, his golden ceremonial dagger and sheath.
Lach said the logical ending to this exhibition is the final galleries dedicated to the groundbreaking discoveries of Tut's lineage and cause of death, which were revealed in February as part of the five-year Egyptian Mummy Project.
Looping video footage in the gallery shows the project's scientists meticulously removing a DNA sample from Tut's femur under the watchful eye of Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and star of the History Channel's documentary series, "Chasing Mummies."
Scientists revealed, through the use of DNA mapping and CT-scans, the likely cause of Tut's death, dispelling previous theory that he was murdered.
The gallery also includes an exact replica of Tut's mummified remains, which have never left the Valley of the Kings; life-sized CT scans of his body and charts illustrating the mapping of his DNA.
Hawass now attributes Tut's death to an injury sustained from his chariot, currently on display for the first time outside of Egypt in the adjoining room. This chariot, one of six Carter uncovered in the Antechamber of Tut's tomb, is unique because of its lighter construction and evidence of extensive use, most likely during hunting or battle.
There is so much to marvel at that it can be difficult to convince oneself to exit the exhibition to catch the 3-D movie, "MUMMIES 3-D: Secrets of the Pharaoh's." The movie, which takes audiences on an adventure through the pyramids, tombs and ancient rituals, is an experience enjoyable for all ages.
A "treasure hunt" mapping the exhibit is also a great tool to entertain and engage young ones.
In the 30 years since Tut's last exhibit in the United States, The Boy King has continued to fascinate the masses and this showcase is no exception.
An ancient Egyptian belief cited in the exhibit states, "To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again." With this exhibit and the others that will most certainly follow, Tutankhamun will live on for an eternity.
For more information, including ticket prices, visit www.discoverytsx.com/exhibitions/kingtut.


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