1. Small gilded wooden naos (shrine) decorated with domestic scenes from the king's life with his wife Ankhsenamon.

Golden opportunity to see the boy-king

In an early start to celebrate the centenary of the discovery of the famous boy-king's tomb in 1922, a dazzling exhibition entitled Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh is on tour, stopping at venues in 10 cities worldwide. It opened last March at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, it is currently on show at the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris and, in November, it will come to London.

Now, more than 50 years after Tutankhamen's fabulous treasures attracted millions of visitors to the 'exhibition of the century' in Paris in 1967, and London in 1972, and also in 2007, this is a further opportunity to rediscover the legendary gold of the pharaohs, before these precious artefacts are permanently housed in the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo that is set to open in 2020.

2. Miniature gold canopic coffing that contained Tutanhamun's mummified liver.

The exhibition has the largest collection of Tutankhamen's treasures ever to travel outside Egypt. More than 150 artefacts from his tomb include 60 that have never left the country before. Among them are a number of
the young king's personal possessions that accompanied him both in life and death – gold jewellery, sculpture and ceremonial objects.

The pharaohs who succeeded him almost managed to erase his name from history but, in 1922, he became headline news around the world when his intact tomb was found by the British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter. Had he not made this discovery, which brought fame to two men who lived 3400 years apart, this 18th-dynasty king (c 1341–c 1323 BC) could have been completely forgotten.


3. Lifesize gilded wooden ka statue of the king; one of a pair that guarded the tomb.

For Ancient Egyptians, death was considered to be a new birth, but immortality was only possible if the body was preserved and underwent the correct rituals. To ensure this post-mortem rebirth and survival in the afterlife, they created a host of funerary rituals, objects and images. Visitors to the Paris exhibition can follow Tutankhamun's passage into everlasting life, discovering along the way the purpose of each funerary ritual object on this perilous journey, as well as the story of one of the key discoveries in modern archaeology.

Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh seeks to focus exclusively on the interpretation and the ritualistic significance of the artefacts. Some of the magnificent objects on show include a miniature gold canopic sarcophagus, a gilded wooden tomb guardian, a gilded bed and a gilded shrine decorated with scenes from the king's life.

But as we gaze on the face of the boy-king, let us not forget Howard Carter, who made the most famous archaeolgical discovery in history yet received not a single honour from his country, and whose sole memorial is a blue plaque on the wall of the London house where he was born. Could this be the time to erect a statue in his memory?

• Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh is at Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris (lavillette.com) until 15 September 2019. The exhibition will be at the Saatchi Gallery in London (www. saatchigallery.com) from 3 November 2019 to 3 May 2020.
Lindsay Fulcher

 
 
 
 
 


 



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