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Two Views of Tutankhamun:
King Tut's Final Secrets and
Treasures on Tour

 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., 13 May 2005—He is among the most famous Egyptian kings in history.  Successor to and perhaps son of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), he became pharaoh at the age of nine—and ruled for nearly a decade before his mysterious death circa 1323 B.C.  Since his tomb was discovered in 1922, King Tutankhamun and the circumstances surrounding his death have been a source of intrigue worldwide.  Why did the famed "boy king" die so young?  And what did he really look like?

On Sunday, 15 May at 9 p.m. ET/PT in the United States, the National Geographic Channel premieres King Tut's Final Secrets , a high-tech forensic investigation unveiling new findings related to his death and the first-ever reconstructions of his face and head using revolutionary 3-D CT scan imaging—revealing, finally, what he looked like on the day he died.  This research is also featured as the cover story of National Geographic magazine's June issue.

The two-hour special follows archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass as his team of Egyptian scientists remove the mummy from its sarcophagus for the first time in more than 25 years.  The goal: use state of the art CT scan technology to solve the mystery surrounding King Tut's death.

The scanning of King Tut's mummy is part of a five-year Egyptian research and conservation project.  Partially funded by the National Geographic Society, the project aims to conserve and study the ancient mummies of Egypt.

"CT technology enables us to virtually 'unwrap' the mummies without damaging them," explains Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. The CT scan finds loose bones inside King Tut's skull, severed ribs and a fractured left leg with a missing kneecap.  Was he murdered?  Or was he hurt in battle?

The scans also provide a blueprint for reconstructing what King Tut actually looked like.  Working separately, two paleosculptors use a "digital skull" from the scan to map the angles and dimensions of a face and transform the raw data into a life-like silicone bust.


Facial reconstructions from CT scans of King Tut's mummy
 Photo courtesy of Supreme Council of Antiquities Cairo

While television brings us the synthetic face of the "real" Tut, 130 of the real treasures from his tomb will tour three US cities in the coming year, in an exhibition entitled Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. 

Beginning 16 June 2005 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) , the show has already been on view at the Antikenmuseum in Basel, Switzerland and the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik in Bonn, Germany.

The exhibition includes 50 major artifacts excavated from the tomb of King Tut, including his royal diadem (the gold crown discovered on his head), as well as one of the gold and precious stone inlaid coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs. More than 70 objects from other royal graves of the 18th Dynasty (1555 B.C.-1305 B.C.) will be on view as well.


Coffin of Tutankhamun's viscera
from the tomb of Tutankhamun
Egyptian museum in Cairo
© Photo: Andreas F. Voegelin, Antikenmuseum Basel and Sammlung Ludwig,
Supreme Council of Antiquities Cairo
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art

A further highlight is the loaned collection of pieces from the intact tomb of Yuya and Tuyu, the parents-in-law of Amenophis III. This tomb was discovered some 20 years before that of Tutankhamun, and had until then been the most celebrated find in the Valley of the Kings.

The objects are accompanied by photos of Howard Carter taken in 1922 to illustrate the condition of the tomb during the first opening, as well as the CT scans featured in King Tut's Final Secrets

From Los Angeles, the show travels to Chicago (December 2005) and Fort Lauderdale (May 2006).

 

Related stories in Culturekiosque Art and Archaeology Archives:

HEKA: MAGIC AND BEWITCHMENT IN ANCIENT EGYPT 

EGYPTIAN ART IN THE AGE OF THE PYRAMIDS



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