Tutankhamun final world tour

2022 marks the centenary of the Egyptologist Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, which spurred renewed interest in Ancient Egypt and the marvels of Luxor. As part of the celebrations, over 150 objects found in the pharaoh’s tomb are on a world tour, due to appear for six months in London from November 2019, continuing to Sydney, and finishing at the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
After this tour ends, only those on Egypt vacations will be able to admire these priceless treasures. The French exhibition has already broken its own world record, not least because it features three times as many artefacts as have ever travelled previously – some 60 of them have never before left Egypt.

Who was Tutankhamun?

Despite being the most well-known pharaoh of Egypt’s dynamic New Kingdom, Tutankhamun’s short reign (c.1332 – 1323BC) wasn’t especially noteworthy. He took the throne at about eight years of age, suffered from multiple ailments, and died just a decade later. Theories that he was murdered were ultimately disproven.

What made Tutankhamun a household name, shortened to King Tut, was the fact that when Howard Carter first unearthed the young pharaoh’s tomb in 1922, it had escaped the worst ravages of the grave robbers that have over the centuries plundered most of the other tombs found in the Valley of the Kings. In fact, Carter discovered so many treasures in Tutankhamun’s tomb (KV62) – over 5,000 of them – that it took 10 years to catalogue them all.
Carter would later write: “At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold.”
Much of this – the famed gold coffinette, a statuette depicting the pharaoh on the back of a panther, a ceremonial shield, a silver trumpet and the incredible bird-shaped ba pectoral – is part of the new exhibition.
During his search and subsequent excavations, Carter would post news of his discoveries on the notice board of the Winter Palace Hotel on the east bank of the Nile, where his patron, Lord Carnarvon, stayed. Carnarvon died shortly after Tutankhamun was found, from an infected mosquito bite, and his was to be the first death ascribed to the ‘Curse of Tutankhamun’ that went on to ‘claim the lives’ of almost a dozen people connected in some way with the discovery over the following decade. All nonsense, of course, but still Responsible Travel’s official guidance does recommend that if you purchase a ticket to enter KV62 in the Valley of the Kings you should always carry a four-leaf clover in one hand and a rabbit’s foot in the other, just to be on the safe side.

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Nile cruise vacation in Egypt

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Show me the mummy! - Where can I see Tutankhamun?

You can see Tutankhamun’s mummy where the pharaoh was originally laid to rest, his underground tomb in the Valley of the Kings – the tomb is listed as KV62. Many of the pharaoh’s treasures were on display at Cairo Museum, which is, along with the Pyramids and the Sphinx, probably the must-see when in the Egyptian capital. Now, however, they are in the process of being moved to their new home in the Grand Egyptian Museum, near Giza.

The Grand Egyptian Museum

Assuming all goes to plan, and King Tut’s curse doesn’t strike again, the new Grand Egyptian Museum should open outside Cairo in 2020, with panoramic views over the Great Pyramids of Giza. Tutankhamun’s treasures, including his funerary mask, will be on permanent display, along with some 100,000 objects including a gigantic statue of Ramses II, the greatest pharaoh of them all.

So, if you do unfortunately miss King Tut’s final grand tour, no need to despair. You know where to find him.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Carsten Frenzl] [Death mask: Carsten Frenzl] [Shrine: Hans Splinter]
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