‘Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh’ at the Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris


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Celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of his tomb, the new Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition is currently on view in Paris. More than 50 years after his treasures attracted more than 1.2 million visitors to the ‘exhibition of the century’ in Paris in 1967, this is a unique opportunity to rediscover the legend, before the artefacts are permanently housed in the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

'Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh' at the Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris

Presented by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and IMG at the Grande Halle de la Villette, in collaboration with the Louvre in an advisory role, the exhibition’s curated collection features more than 150 original artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb including a number of the young sovereign’s personal objects that accompanied him in both life and death: gold jewellery, sculptures and ceremonial objects. FedEx, the tour’s official logistics provider, utilised its global network to transport the artefacts, including more than 50 items that are visible for the first time outside of Egypt.

While the Pharaohs that succeeded Tutankhamun almost managed to erase him from the history books, he became headline news around the world when his tomb was found untouched in 1922 by the British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter. Had he not made this discovery, which brought fame to two men who lived 3,400 years apart, the 18th dynasty Pharaoh could have been forgotten completely.

“To celebrate the 100th year anniversary of discovering the tomb of the Boy King Tutankhamun, Egypt is sending 150 masterpieces to tour all over the world. We invite people to come and see them, before they return to Egypt,” said Dr. Mostafa Waziry, Secretary General of the Ministry of State for Antiquities, Egypt.

“By reviving the legend of the Pharaoh covered with gold in a very potent way, the discovery of Tutankhamun’s unplundered tomb, almost one hundred years ago, revived our fascination with Egypt and its buried treasure. It is a pleasure to collaborate in bringing the legend of Tutankhamun and these extremely rare objects from the Cairo Museum for this historic and final return to Paris, and inspiring wonder in a new generation,” said Vincent Rondot, Director of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities, the Louvre.

For ancient Egyptians, death was also considered to be a new birth. However, this life after death was only possible if the body was preserved and underwent the right rituals. To ensure this post mortem rebirth and survival in the afterlife, the ancient Egyptians created a whole host of rituals, objects, images and texts that can be found inside and on the walls of the tomb.

Visitors to the exhibition will follow Tutankhamun’s journey into everlasting life, discovering along the way what each funerary object was used for on this perilous journey, as well as the story of one of the key discoveries in modern archeology. As they explore the exhibition, visitors will be perpetuating the memory of the Pharaoh and his immortality.

For the first time, the Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition seek to focus exclusively on the interpretation and the ritualistic significance of the artefacts, and includes:

Gilded wooden naos containing the pedestal of a statue 

One of the most fascinating objects discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb, this small gilded wooden naos has decorations that show the royal couple—Tutankhamun and his wife—in a scene that reveals intimacy. These apparently domestic themes placed an emphasis on the role played by Queen Ankhesenamon with regard to her husband, particularly her ‘invigorating’ actions, on earth (with allusions to the coronation) and in the afterlife.

Miniature canopic coffin 

During the mummification process, the viscera were dealt with separately from the body. They were embalmed, anointed with oils and gum resins, then wrapped in linen bandages, and finally placed in receptacles called canopic vessels. There were four of the latter, which were most often jars, or even, as with Tutankhamun, miniature coffins. They were placed in a calcite trunk, and each of the four cavities intended for the coffins was closed with a lid bearing Tutankhamun’s effigy. The miniature coffin displayed here was reserved for the liver, an organ placed under the protection of the goddess Isis and Amset, a genie with a human head.

Wooden Guardian Statue of the King 

The dramatic, life-size ka statue of Tutankhamun marks his passage from the dark night of the Netherworld to his rebirth at dawn. The black skin symbolises the fertility of the Nile and its eternal resurrection. Gold, the symbol of the sun and the flesh of the gods, represents Tutankhamun’s attainment of divinity. The guardian’s nemes royal headdress represents Re-Khepri, the solar god, at dawn. Another, almost identical statue to this one is wearing a khat headdress, a symbol of the night. Both statues acted as guardians to the burial chamber and are the most complete and spectacular examples of such objects to have been discovered to this day. This is the first time this statue has left Egypt.

Gilded Wooden Bed 

The ceremonial bed was probably made for Tutankhamun’s funeral. To ensure the Pharaoh’s safety and keep the evil forces at bay, divine figures were carved on the foot of the bed: Bes, the god who frightened away evil spirits from newborn babies, and Tauret, the hippopotamus goddess, are watching over the king’s eternal rest. It was believed that the dead were only asleep and that they woke up when they were reborn. The living saw sleep as a deathlike state. The gods would speak to the sleepers, whose nightmares were proof that they were vulnerable to the supernatural forces of evil. Hence, waking up each day was seen as a form of rebirth.

In addition to accompanying the project, the Louvre Department of Egyptian Antiquities lent one of its own masterpieces: the statue of the god Amun protecting Tutankhamun, and is setting up a special “Valley of the Kings” itinerary in its permanent collection.

“The 100th anniversary of one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in history inspired us to create an exhibition like none before. As millions of people around the world get the opportunity to see these ancient objects in an immersive and personal context, we know Tutankhamun’s place in people’s imaginations will be secure for generations to come,” said John Norman, Managing Director, Exhibitions, IMG.

At the conclusion of the exhibition’s 10-city world tour, the items will go on permanent display at the Grand Egyptian Museum being constructed in Cairo. The money raised from this exhibition will provide financial support to the Grand Egyptian Museum and to archaeological sites in Egypt.

The Grand Egyptian Museum will be situated adjacent to the Giza Plateau within 2.5 kilometres of the Giza pyramids. Once completed it will be a world-leading scientific, historical and archaeological study center that will cover approximately 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian history and house more than 100,000 artefacts. This stunning location will serve as a backdrop to a display of priceless artefacts, including the final resting place of the Tutankhamun collection. The Giza Plateau is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Aside from the pyramids, it is home to the Giza Necropolis and the Great Sphinx.

Source: Exposition Toutankhamon Paris 2019 [March 31, 2019]



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