Exhibit could be King Tut’s last in Seattle

SEATTLE — As Egyptians flocked to the polls to elect a president Wednesday, the first election of its kind in the Arab world, a different page of Egyptian history was unfolding here.

For the first time in three decades — and possibly for the last time — people in the Puget Sound region can view some of the artifacts found in King Tut’s tomb.

Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,” a new exhibit opens today at the Pacific Science Center. It’s scheduled to last through Jan. 6.

Officials say the exhibit is the final trip the artifacts will make outside Egypt.

“Today history is being written again,” said Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim. The Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs spoke to a crowd of reporters in Seattle on Wednesday.

He heralded the historic election in his home country and the exhibit’s opening.

“It is a great day for us, and also, it’s a great day for Seattle and the region,” he said.

The exhibit includes about 130 fascinating objects spanning 2,000 years of Egyptian history, said David Silverman, the show’s curator.

Silverman spent two days combing the halls of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo selecting artifacts for the exhibit.

Together these fine pieces create a narrative of the Pharohs, the kings of ancient Egypt, how they lived, and how they died.

“The artifacts always tell the story,” Silverman said.

This exhibit triples the size of the 1978 King Tut show put on by the Seattle Art Museum. Only two objects are repeats, and officials promised that the notoriously long lines of the ’70s will not return.

Already more than 90,000 tickets have been sold, officials said.

Most of the statues, jewelry, vases and tablets come from the ornate and impressive burial sites. Ancient Egyptians believed that the elaborate funerary chambers would ensure the king’s reign in the afterworld.

On Nov. 4, 1920, Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered containing more than 5,000 objects, including the king’s remains. To date, King Tut’s tomb is regarded as one of the most important archaeological finds ever.

After the British archaeologist Howard Carter, who found the cache, first slipped inside the tomb, a colleague asked if he could see anything.

“Yes, wonderful things,” Carter said.

A fine selection of these wonderful things are on display in the show.

Tut is believed to have lived from 1341 B.C. until 1323 B.C., dying mysteriously at 19.

In his burial chambers, Carter found carefully carved statues, games, beds, chairs and more, all beautifully preserved. A sparkling miniature coffin built to hold the king’s organs sparkles with gold. (It’s the only Tut coffin in Seattle. The others stayed in Cairo.)

All of the objects in the exhibit are treasures. Visitors will have the sense they are seeing the very best. These pieces jump into the imagination and open it up to the ancient world.

The archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass found the statue of Kai, a gorgeous example of art more than 4,500 years old. It is considered one of the finest examples from the Cairo museum.

The piece is stunningly real and ethereal. Hawass tells exhibit visitors on a recording what it was like to first unearth this incredible artifact.

“I felt as if I was holding the universe in my hands,” he said.

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

Exhibit

“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” opens today at the Pacific Science Center and is scheduled through Jan. 6. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets are 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; $15.50 to $20.50 for children 3 to 5.

Advance tickets are recommended: pacific sciencecenter.org or call 800-664-8775.

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