Tutankhamun: the boy king comes to London
Oddly underwhelming collection of fascinating artefacts
No IT angle There has been much fanfare in the press about the unveiling of King Tutankhamun's mummified face. The boy king has recently been installed in a clear, climate controlled chamber, confronting visitors to the Valley of the Kings with his mortality, and his humanity.
The casual reader could be forgiven for thinking that this remarkable exhibit forms part of the "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" touring show, soon to open at the building formerly known as the Millennium Dome. But it doesn't, which is a bit of a shame.
The exhibition is still impressive: it is hard to be jaded in the face of an array of more than 130 stunning objects, each more than 3,500 years old. The exhibition includes statues of several members of Tutankhamun's family, including his stepmother, Queen Nefertiti. More everyday objects are also included, such as a child's chair, and a cosmetics container.
It also covers the political upheaval in Egypt during the reign of Tutankhamun's father, Pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV). Akhenaten swept away the traditional multitude of Egyptian gods and goddesses in favour of a single deity: the sun disc. Tutankhamun was integral in restoring the old traditions, before he died aged just 19.
But the stars of the show are the items removed from the body of the boy king, by his discoverer, Howard Carter. Tutankhamun's crown, golden collars and an ornate ceremonial dagger are all displayed around a representation of the sarcophagus. Sadly, the iconic burial mask is not part of the show.
The tickets are not cheap: £20 a head, but at least half (or at least 75 per cent, depending on who you talk to) of the money will go directly to supporting conservation work in Egypt. In total, the exhibition is expected to raise $140m dollars for the country.
Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's supreme council of antiquities, said that it was time for the world to stump up some cash in return for the privilege of viewing the artefacts: "There are no more free meals," he said.
King Tutankhamun has not made a penny from various tours, he said, including the record breaking visit to the British Museum back in 1972. "This time, the proceeds must go to the preservation of monuments."
The individual exhibits are stunning, and the range of items on show is mind-boggling. The audio tour through the Valley of the Kings (narrated by the cuddly-sounding Omar Sharif) is a great primer for anyone with an interest.
But £20 is a hefty price-tag for an exhibition being marketed to families. And because it is being hosted at the O2, not at The British Museum, you can't go straight downstairs and have a look at the Rosetta Stone, or take a tour of Ancient Greece while you're in town. ®
We'd like to say thanks to HP for the loan of the Photosmart R930 series camera with which we took the picture above. (So easy to use, we didn't even have to read the instruction book. And they sent it with two...)
Twenty pound a head!
Is this just another pyramid scheme?
"Ladies and Gentlermen, we apologise for the slight delay while you wait to enter the King Tutt Extravaganza And Fundraiser. This is due to increased security measures. Please listen carefully. All visitors are to undergo security checks before entering. These will be carried out by our team of four trained security checkers. We apologise for the slight delays this will cause, we are recruiting new checkers, subject to satisfatory illegal immigration status, and we hope to have doubled the number by December 2009. No liquids, powders, pastes or gels will be allowed into to the exhibition area, unless these are in a plastic bag not more than 1 litre in capacity, which renders them safe. Small bottles of acid, germ warfare agent or poison gas may be safely carried in your 1 litre plastic bag which you should wave vaguely at the security guard who will then ignore it. Confiscated drinks may be repurchased on the other side of security, and these will not be confiscated again until you are about to enter the subsequent area. All potentially dangerous items must be abandoned at the security check or left at the baggage check. The queue for the baggage check is on the other side of this building. Potentially dangerous items which will be confiscated include childrens plastic scissors, tiny nail clippers, all pens and pencils, makeup, under wired bras (please take your bra to a help station if you are in doubt) shoes, some ornamental socks, all cameras, mobile telephones, belts, change, combs, safety pins, cotton buds, and any over the counter medicines in those little foil sachets. In order to make the exhibition inclusive and reflective of UK society all signs will be in Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese, Polish, Thai, and Suoni. English translations are available as leaflets from the kiosk outside at three pounds each.The exhibition has also been maximised for social learning and integration, so the first row of viewing will be reserved for groups of schoolchildren below the age of eight, and will be equipped with paints, crayons, and musical instruments to help them express their wonder and awe. Finally, in order to reduce the risk of vandalism, the actual exhibition will now consist of a selection of photographs and old postcards from people who have seen the famous artefacts elsewhere and written home to Britain about them. The Artefacts are safely stored in a vault and may be viewed by webcam at www.WhatevershappenedtotheBM.biz There is a small Visa payment for the web viewing service.Thank you for your patience"
"Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's supreme council of antiquities, said that it was time for the world to stump up some cash in return for the privilege of viewing the artefacts: "There are no more free meals," he said."
Is that quote correct? Well, with an attitude like that, I say "screw you" and I'll just catch the TV special, thanks much.
He should really hire a PR type to handle his public statements. Considering that exhibitions rely on promotion as much as curiosity, they really shouldn't let him talk.
(is "artefact" an approved alternate spelling for "artifact" - or is that a typo? <- just wondering)