See ‘wonderful things’ at Tut exhibit in Seattle

  • Thu May 31st, 2012 8:58am
  • Life

By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer

When the British archaeologist Howard Carter first slipped into King Tut’s tomb on Nov. 4, 1920, he lit a small candle.

As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, the remarkable discovery began to glitter and shine.

A colleague shouted to Carter, asking if he could see anything.

“Yes,” Carter replied. “Wonderful things.”

Now, 92 years later, a small fraction of those wonderful things — and they are really wonderful — are on display in “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,” a new exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

The stunning exhibit, which is scheduled to be on display through Jan. 6, features objects Carter discovered in King Tut’s tomb and several other items that help explain the reign of the pharaohs.

Egyptian officials say this is the final time that the country’s treasured antiquities will travel abroad.

Many people may remember a similar exhibit mounted in 1978 by the Seattle Art Museum. This year’s King Tut show is three times bigger, officials say. Also, tickets are sold in advance for specific time slots to avoid the legendary lines

Kids will be wowed by the stately statues and grand scale of the show.

Grown-ups will enjoy the fine selection of objects, fascinating pieces that bring the ancient world to life.

Ancient Egyptians believed that their leaders were connected to the gods. Once a pharaoh took the throne, preparation immediately began to build a tomb. After his death, carefully embalmed and surrounded by statues, jewelry and everyday treasures, the pharoah was provided for in the afterlife, the exhibit explains.

The tombs are some of the most well-known treasures of the ancient world: the great pyramids of Giza, the sphinx and Luxor’s Valley of the Kings.

These sacred burial grounds were rich archives for archaeologists. Because they were hidden, many pieces made of wood, gold, stone and clay survived the centuries in remarkable condition.

Items from tombs and other digs aside from King Tut make up about two-thirds of the exhibit, building a narrative and expectation for the final part, the stunning works found in Tut’s tomb.

One of the grandest pieces is a colossal statue of Tut that weighs around 6,000 pounds. It towers over the exhibit keeping silent watch, as it did where it was found, the funerary temple of Ay and Horemheb.

King Tut’s tomb proved an especially important find. The young king’s burial rooms were filled with objects that reflect an especially robust and intricate period in ancient art. The find also helped fill in a missing era in Egyptian history. Tut’s legacy wasn’t recorded in ancient times, likely because he died young, at 19.

Researchers today continue to learn new information about ancient times by studying these priceless artifacts, officials said.

Surely the canopic coffinette, one of four miniature coffins used to hold the young king’s organs, is the prize of the exhibit. It is intricately inlaid and carved, a small copy of the larger coffin used to hold the king’s body. For kids looking for the grim wrapped bodies or series of coffins, this little one will have to suffice. If you want to see Tut’s mummy, you have to go to Egypt.

Still, the show helps inspire a curiosity and provides an overview of ancient Egypt. It’s not the most sophisticated museum show, but it’s definitely worth the admission price.

There are pieces that shimmer, providing a glimpse into a rich culture that thrived thousands of years ago. These are some of the best objects from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.

Plan to purchase tickets in advance; many time slots already are sold out.

“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” runs daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Pacific Science Center through Jan. 6.

Tickets range from $27.50 to $32.50 for adults; $24.50 to $29.50 for seniors and students, $16.50 to $21.50 for children 6 to 15; and $15.50 to $20.50 for children 3 to 5.

Buy tickets at pacificsciencecenter.org or call 800-664-8775.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.