An exhibition of artifacts from the tomb of King Tut, on loan from the Cairo Museum for the final time, opened last week at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.
Though the famous gold funerary mask and Tutankhamun's mummy are not included in the exhibit, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharoahs, many remnants from his tomb's treasury are, including solid gold sandals, a rattan-type bed, canopic jars, elaborate jewelry and a mini coffin that once housed the stomach of the famous pharaoh from the 18th dynasty who lived more than 3,000 years ago.
The exhibition last visited Seattle in 1979, and this is the final chance to view the exhibition on American soil. The artifacts will be returned permanently to Egypt.
Bryce Seidl, president of the Pacific Science Center, said almost 90,000 tickets have been sold to the exhibit, which runs through Jan. 3. The tickets are sold for various time frames, allowing visitors to have a more comfortable experience without pushing through a packed house.
"There were 50 artifact pieces in 1979, and this exhibit will have 130 artifacts," Seidl said. "Most artifacts never go outside of Egypt, and after this exhibit ends, these also will never leave Egypt again."
Mohammed Ibrahim, Egypt's antiquities minister, accompanied the artifacts on their journey to Seattle. The trip coincided with Egypt's first democratic election, and Ibrahim spoke this week about how he hopes the Tut exhibit will inspire Americans to visit Egypt.
"History is being rewritten in Egypt after the January revolution," he said. "We need you to support our revolution, to support our movement toward peace and democracy. The country is depressed financially, and tourism will help. I urge you to come and visit Egypt. It is safe again and please, we need your help."
The exhibit features more than artifacts from Tut's tomb. Visitors enter the exhibition into a large room depicting the Valley of the Kings with life-size stone statues and busts of pharaohs, including coffins of Queen Meritamun, Imhotep, Hatshepsut, Merenptah, Amenhotep and Ramses II, plus a colossal statue of Tutankhamun.
The exhibit then transitions to a room with artifacts and statues from families of pharaohs before moving into the entrance to Tut's tomb, which the Pacific Science Center created to be reminiscent of entering each chamber of the tomb much as archeologist Howard Carter did when the tomb was discovered in 1922.
The tomb's annex is first followed by the antechamber, then the burial room. As you leave the exhibit, a replica of mummified Tut is in a case with large photo murals on the wall that show the actual mummy of King Tut when DNA testing was done in 2005.
There is a wooden chest in the exhibit where the remains of Tut's two stillborn children were buried with him. Historic tidbits throughout the exhibit educate visitors on Tut's history. Testing revealed the stillborn children in his tomb were sired through an apparent incestuous relationship between Tut and his sister.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com