Wednesday, December 20, 2006

King Tut

Today we visited the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit at The Field Museum. Although it did not include the famous gold mask, sarcophagus, etc., it was still well worthwhile.

The exhibit started with a short video and the first few rooms explained Egypt in Tut's time. These rooms features artifacts of Tut's parents and grandparents. For those who know little about Egyptology it might be overwhelming, but people were taking their time, reading everything, and pouring over the artifacts. It was elbow-to-elbow standing room only, sometimes several people deep. The man who sold us our tickets said 10,000 people had been there ahead of us, so apparently this exhibit is always crowded!

I like seeing Tut's family's stuff, but Tut's treasuers were the best. I can't remember everything we saw but we liked the pectoral amulets, dagger, diadem, walking sticks, gold box with engraved scenes of Tut and Ankhsenamen, the cosmetic box with a lion on the lid, box with carrying sticks, the golden coffinette (which once contained Tut's liver), Akhenaten's head from his collosus at Karnak, and the forsenic analyses. The latter included Tut's facial reconstruction based on CT scans of his skull. It also included the latest theory about his cause of death (a broken bone and subsequent infection), so the info was very current!

As an amateur Egyptologist, words escape me when I try to tell you how much I enjoyed this exhibit. I've seen much of Tut's stuff in books and on TV but actually seeing it is a completely different experience, even if you can't touch anything. When you think about how old it all is, it's amazing that it looks brand-new and you can't help but wonder how they could make such exquisite things with what we consider primative tools. Then, when you realize Tut died unexpectedly at a very young age, you wonder how they got so much done in time for his burial, and what must the tomb of an old King, with many years to prepare his tomb goods, have looked like? It's just mind-boggling.

The Field Museum has a nice exhibit web site, but I don't know how long it will remain active. National Geography has permanent Tut exhibit site, which isn't surprising since we noticed they produced the exhibit catalog/book and DVD. After the 70s they said Tut's stuff would never leave Egypt again, so if you get a chance to see this exhibit, be sure to do so!

The Field Museum itself it worth the trip to Chicago. This was my second visit and I still haven't seen it all. I like the Egpytian exhibit, the dinosaurs, and the labs where you can watch scientists at work (it is a working musuem). We are planning another trip so we can spend a couple of days enjoying The Field Museum and The Museum of Science and Industry.

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