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January 27, 2010 > Return of the King

Return of the King

By Mona Shah

Imagine being in charge of a country at the age of nine. That is what life was like for King Tutankhamun (too-tahn-KAH-men,) who became King of Egypt after his father died. This "boy king" ruled the country, 3,300 years ago for 10 years; he died under mysterious circumstances when about 18 years old.

Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings was filled with magnificent treasures meant to ensure his divine immortality. Many objects belonging to the young king - exquisite personal items used in his daily life - were placed in it. The tomb was discovered in 1922 by archaeologist Howard Carter after a multi-year search and is the only intact tomb in the Valley of Kings found to date.

Now you can visit Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb, arguably the greatest archaeological discovery of all time, without traveling to Egypt. "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" is on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco through March 28.

The 130 artifacts in "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" present a larger, more comprehensive display that places King Tut in the expanded context of Egypt's 18th dynasty, its "Golden Age." Fifty objects from Tut's tomb are featured in this exhibit, including his golden diadem, the dagger found wrapped in his mummy's linen bandages, and the miniature inlaid golden coffinette that held his mummified liver.

Eighty other objects of stone, faience and wood from the tombs of other pharaohs such as Amenhotep III, Tuthmosis IV and Akhenaten, as well as other 18th dynasty royalty inform the viewer about daily life in ancient Egypt and the burial practices of pharaohs and the elite. The exhibition includes works of sculpture, burial artifacts, jewelry, decorative arts, household objects, weapons, sarcophagi and personal objects, all more than 3,000 years old.

Artifacts in Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs are complemented by 20 black and white photographs taken by Metropolitan Museum of Art photographer Harry Burton, who accompanied archaeologist Howard Carter during the discovery and documentation of Tut's tomb in the Valley of Kings in Luxor.

The exhibition begins with a National Geographic video presenting the latest scientific information about King Tut and a brief introductory film narrated by Omar Sharif. The first four galleries of the nine in the exhibition take the visitor through daily life, religious upheaval and royal burial practices in Egypt's 18th Dynasty. Five final galleries are dedicated to artifacts from King Tut's tomb including objects reflecting both his personal interests and his pharaonic rank. Displays are cleverly configured, so that museum-goers can read the explanation of the objects displayed from any angle, not just straight up.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-877-TUT-TKTS, or in person at the de Young admission desk. All tickets to the King Tut exhibition are timed, dated and subject to availability.

King Tut
Through March 28
Tuesday - Sunday
9 a.m. to 6:30 pm
Fridays
9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

The de Young Museum
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., San Francisco
(415) 750-3600
www.deyoungmuseum.org

Tickets range from
$27.50 (adults)
$16.50 (children)
1-877-TUT-TKTS
www.ticketmaster.com

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