Sunday, 8 January 2017

(Replicas of) The Treasures Of King Tutankhamun



I travelled to Perth at the end of last year to visit an exhibition of reproductions of the treasures of the tomb of Tutankahmun discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. Only 5 years earlier King Tutankhamun And The Golden Age Of The Pharaohs had an extended run here in Melbourne.

The exhibition had not been widely advertised outside of that city. Melbourne is the opposite side of the continent to Perth so I had quite a way to travel - but it was worth it!

Having seen the originals of most of these pieces little less than 12 months ago, many asked why I was bothering. I was following a hunch based on some preliminary reports that I had read about the exhibition, and was curious to see how they strung everything together as an event. As turns out, a company more experienced in running concerts than museum shows were the curator and financiers of the event, and the sense of theatre that they obviously engendered in the show is what made it unique and engaging.

Newly colourised Harry Burton originals greeted us as soon as we entered the event;
featured  R to L are the Netjeru Qebsenenuf, Duamutef, Sekhmet and Geb 

The receiving room of the exhibition is filled with blow ups of Harry Burton's original photos of documentation from 1922 - with the difference that the images have been remastered and colourised. It was a treat seeing these and foretold the focus of the show leaning much toward Carter's trials and tribulations in finding and cataloguing the tomb items as much as the items themselves!

I loved this mural that features an aerial view of The Valley Of The Kings
The next room was devoted to the ancestry of the King and explaining the pharaonic civilisation from Egyptology's viewpoint. A massive mural of the Valley Of The Kings made a majestic backdrop to this area.

The screens feature Queen Tiye - the king's grandmother

We were then ushered to a room where 3 screens beamed the story of Dynasty 18 and Tutankhamun's ancestry. This was the first taste of theatrics, screens, and drama to tell the tale of events behind the objects and who they belonged to.


The next theatre told the tale of Howard Carter's life, complete with actors and how all things lead to his discovery of the tomb. The exhibition emphasised how underrated Carter is in the history of Egyptology and the enormous contribution he made to our understanding of Ancient Egypt.


The exhibit that we moved to next was the first of 3 replications of how the rooms were first found when Carter entered them. The antechamber featured primarily the chariots and beds as well as chests and other furniture that the king used during his reign.

This part of the event is unique and fascinating. The find was so well documented in Harry Burton's photos and Carter's notes that these simulations are now possible. Most of the replicas we see in these displays are again replicated in the main exhibition hall so we can see them displayed properly and not in the original (cluttered and cramped) context.








In the next part of the event we are faced with the 4 shrines that housed the sarcophagus, 3 inner coffins and ultimately the mummy of the king. Faithful reproductions of the wall paintings are also featured, including a rendition of the destroyed part of the wall (featuring the Goddess Auset) that happened as a result of accessing the rest of the chambers.

Sadly, this image of the Goddess Auset (Isis) no longer exists - it was destroyed in order to gain access to the rest of the tomb
Seeing the shrines outside of glass and up close was astonishing and breathtaking. The craftsmanship (of the original AND the replicas) are beyond words. I was fascinated to learn that much of the writing on these extraordinary "machines" has not yet been deciphered: it is believed that a deliberate encryption had been employed by the priests overseeing such matters. Click here for a short vid of the glyphs on the 1st shrine.

The bolted doors of a shrine
The rest of the hall was devoted to the canopic shrine, the statues of the Netjeru and the king that had been found inside many little wooden shrines, ushabtis, thrones and chariots of the king.

More use was made of screens and projectors above the dais' holding the replicas that gave further insight into their nature and discovery.

The exhibition successfully created an event that allowed participants a memorable experience. Being up close to each item with out a sheet of glass in between made more of a difference than I thought it would.

Tutankhamun: His Tomb And Treasures is an exhibition event staged by Semmel Concerts and Stage Events with replicas created by Dr. Mostafa Elezaby.



For more images (and videos) , please see my Instagram page.


I sketched the sarcophagus replica on my second day visit to the event; I wanted to get all the glyphs in somehow, as I intend reading these someday - a goal I move closer toward thanks to the Bob Brier taught course I am doing through The Great Courses

Ra has the last word in this post!
I took this photo on the way home from the plane - my visit to the west complete, as King Tutankhamun's journey to the West, so long ago, captures such a vivid part of my imagination



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