Tutankhamun’s tomb to remain open after all

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King Tutankhamun’s tomb will not be closed in the near future, Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News.

6a00d8341bf67c53ef0147e1c8b740970b-800wiMany reports in the past two weeks announced the closure of this tourist magnet by the end of this year.

Although suffering from the wear and tear caused by hordes of sweaty visitors drawn in by the elaborate murals and the boy king’s mummy, which is kept in a climate-controlled glass case, the burial won’t close its doors so soon.

“Tutankhamun’s tomb will not be closed in the near future. It is a long-term plan that has not been decided upon yet,” Hawass told Discovery News.

The long term plan involves a $10 million project called the “Valley of the Replicas.”

Visitors will be directed to exact reproductions of the original tombs. The first three replicas will be the tombs of Tutankhamun, and the already closed burials of Seti I and Queen Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens.

The three original tombs will remain open to tourists willing to pay very hefty fee, perhaps as high as $8,500 per visit.

One of the world’s most visited tombs, King Tut’s tomb, also known as KV62, is also one of the smaller of the 63 burials in the Valley of the Kings.

The desolate rocky place on the western bank of the Nile River near Luxor was supposed to be the ultimate hidden burial.

Indeed, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century B.C., mummies of kings and nobles were buried there in tombs cut from limestone.

Ironically, the sacred burial site has become one of the world most popular tourist attractions, visited by some 9,000 people a day.

The number of visitors to King Tut’s tomb itself, which once saw an average of 6,000 tourists a day, is now limited to 1,000.

Restrictions have been made necessary as the burial’s popularity increased with the public display of the glass-encased mummy in 2007.

Indeed, exactly 85 years after Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered the pharaoh’s treasure-packed tomb, King Tut’s mummy left forever his original ornate sarcophagus and moved to a new coffin in the antechamber of his small underground tomb.

Black, leathery, shriveled and cracked, the 3,300-year-old pharaoh, who ascended the throne at age nine and reigned until his death at 19, has been generating significant funds for the preservation of Egyptian antiquities.

His mummified face, including his toothy smile, and his teenage feet are the only visible parts behind the thick glass walls.

The boy king will eventually return to the peace and quiet he enjoyed for more than three millennia.

When the doors of his tomb close forever, his mummy won’t be moved from its original resting place in the Valley of the Kings.

“The mummy will remain inside the tomb,” Hawass told Discovery News.


Author: Rossella Lorenzi | Source: Discovery News [January 20, 2011]