Thursday, July 19, 2012

Visiting Tutankhamen: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs

With the entire family in town for Julie's Graduation, we decided to visit the Tutankhamen: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. So on Saturday morning, all ten of us loaded up into two cars and caravaned to downtown Seattle for the day. We arrived at the ticket booth for the exhibit at about 10:00am, only to discover that the next available showing of the exhibit wasn't until 5:00pm that evening! What were we going to to? We had nine adults and a toddler to entertain all day if we wanted to stick around until 5:00pm. After a lengthy discussion and lots of assurance from Jaisha that Kaleb would last the day just fine, we bought our tickets. Check out this post to find out how we entertained ourselves until time to see King Tut!

We decided to spring for the audio tour of the exhibit, which I strongly recommend for everyone who visits this exhibit. Narrated by Harrison Ford, the audio tour gives additional information behind some of the artifacts and features stories and details from the archaeologists themselves who were present when the artifacts were discovered. It was enthralling to be surrounded by these ancient relics and listening to the stories of their discovery taking us back 5,000 years in time, experiencing what it was like to live during the Golden Age.
A golden mask of a jaguar.
A children's game found in King Tut's tomb.
We saw over 100 objects from King Tut's tomb and other ancient sites. Some of the items we saw were the 10-foot quartzite statue of King Tut, which was found among the remains of the funerary temple of two of his officials, King Tut's jewelry, furniture (bed and chair), and ceremonial items. We even saw his golden sandals which were created specifically for the afterlife and covering his feet when his mummified remains were discovered in 1922. In addition to his golden sandals, he had golden finger and toe coverings that were placed on his toes and fingers before he was wrapped up.  We examined the golden canopic coffinette which contained King Tut's mummified stomach! There was the exquisite gold death mask of Psusennes I and an impressive colossal bust of Amenhotep IV, who was King Tut's father. We even saw the status of Khafre, the builder of the Great Sphinx and one of the pyramids at Giza, Hatshepsut, the queen who become a pharaoh, and Ramesses the Great.  Although the mummy of King Tut is not included in the exhibit, there is an exact replica of his mummy on display. The replica was created from recent CT scans and is incredibly life-like. The real mummy of King Tut has never left Egypt, remaining in a sacred resting place inside the tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor; as it should be.
A piece of jewelry found in King Tut's tomb.
An earring found in King Tut's tomb.
King Tut's golden sandals, to protect his feet in his journey to the afterlife.
King Tut's golden finger and toe protectors, to protect his fingers and toes in his journey to the afterlife.
The exhibit featured six different rooms;
  • Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt; which explored what Egypt was like during the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom.
  • Pharaoh's Family; the role of Pharaoh's family and the private lives of Pharaohs
  • Pharaoh's Court; how power was distributed among various members of the court and other roles in the royal kingdom.
  • Pharaoh's Religion; explanation of the beliefs and the role of the Pharaoh on earth, the various gods and goddess, the supernatural, and the after-life.
  • Pharaoh's Gold; featuring the amazing abundance of gold that the Pharaoh's posed and the role that gold plays in the after-life
  •  and Discovery of Pharaoh; the discovery and excavation of King Tut's tomb in the 1920's which is set up to resemble the four rooms of the actual tomb, the antechamber, annex, treasury, and burial chamber.
King Tutankhamen, also known as King Tut or the "Boy King", has fascinated people for centuries because he was such a young king who died mysteriously at the age of 19. To this day there are many theories about why King Tut died.
King Tut's golden sarcophagus (or coffin).
King Tut's tomb was discovered by Howard Carter and when he first peered in to the tomb and asked if there was anything within, Carter responded, "Yes, wonderful things".  There was evidence that robbers had entered the tomb at least twice in ancient times, but for the most part the tomb was undistributed.

Each Pharaoh had many names, but the most important two names were the nomen (birth name) and their prenomen (throne name). Each name appears in a cartouch which is an oval ring containing a royal person's name in hieroglyphic writing. King Tut's nomen was Tutankhaten but he changed it to Tutankhamen to honor the god Amun. His prenomen was Nebkheperure, which means "Re is Lord of manifestations". 
The two ovals in the center of this carving are how names were written, one oval for the nomen and one oval for the prenomen.
King Tut came to power during a particularly unstable time in Egypt's history. His father, Akhenaten, had declared the public should worship only one god, Aten, the sun disc. This is radical turn from the previous practice of worshiping many gods. Priests of the traditional gods were stripped of their power and influence and many temples were closed. The religious capital was closed and moved from Thebes and Memphis to a newly built city dedicated to Aten, called Akhetaten. When King Tut's father passed away, the city of Akhetaten was abandoned and the old gods and their priests were reinstated. This is when King Tut and his queen changed their names to honor the traditional god Amun.
This statue was huge! It was hard to capture on film, but it made quiet the impression.

Artwork of royal individuals were not intended to look like specific people, rather they were made to look like perfect beings as Pharaohs were considered gods on earth. Often Pharaohs were shown with symbols worn only by the royal or gods. This was often a crown, the uraeus, and the false bear and crook. Different geographical areas had different crowns worn by the reigning Pharaoh; the red crown of  Lower Egypt, the white crown of Upper Egypt, the blue war crown, and the double crown of united Upper and Lower Egypt. The uraeus is a cobra on the figures brow which often appeared with a vulture.
This shows the uraeus, often found on crowns.

This was an amazing exhibit, filled so much history. I found my self lingering in front of each item, imaging how long it must have taken someone to carve out the intricate designs, marveling at the size of these statues, the impressive skill to create such lifelike artifacts with simple tools. I highly recommend this exhibit to everyone, even if you don't have a passion for history, everyone will find something they will find intriguing. Not to mention this is the last top for this exhibit before the artifacts are returned to Egypt for a long time. It is truly a chance of a lifetime!
One of two statues of King Tut
The replica of King Tut's mummy.
I had a hard time deciding on which pictures to include in this post, as I didn't want to give everything away for those who have not yet visited the exhibit. Can you believe these wonderful items are just a teaser! Seriously, everyone should visit this exhibit before it is gone! Visit the Pacific Science Center's website for more information and tickets. I strongly recommend buying tickets in advance, so you don't end up the same situation as my family!

No comments:

Post a Comment