King Tutankhamun has come to town! The boy king is attracting very large crowds, the day I went they were queuing around the block, but it is worth it to line up for him. Inside the five rooms were, in the words of the boy pharaoh’s discoverer Howard Carter; “many wonderful things.”
Tut-Ankh-Amun was originally named Tut-Ankh-Aten, being the son of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten who changed the long held multi deity faith that the ancient Egyptians were used to into a monotheistic religion that worshipped the one god, the sun disc Aten.
When the young Tut-Ankh-Aten came to the throne, he was aware of the chaos his father’s belief had brought to the land and it did not take long for the old priests to come to the newly crowned pharaoh and persuade him to return to the old ways and thus the name change as the Aten was replaced with Amun.
This exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London is immense and very golden. The rooms were darkly lit just so that the gold shone through the glass cabinets that held the exhibits. This is the final world tour of the burial objects of Tutankhamun, before they return to Egypt and to their resting place in the brand new and soon to be opened Cairo museum.
The show is a delight and many of the wonderful things that Carter found are on display, some of them have never been on show outside of Egypt before.
Tutankamun’s life and death are still a mystery, there are many theories as to how he died so young, was he murdered? Was it an accident or maybe his death was related to a medical problem? However he died, he was buried with splendour, but then many of the artefacts inside throw up some more questions, there has been for some time controversy over whether one of the masks that covered his mummy was originally made for somebody else. With the boy king dying so young and unexpectedly, his burial seems to have been a rushed affair.
In the original tomb there is a north wall with a scene from the first chapter of the Egyptian Amduat, this is a book for the Royals kings and queens to help them through the death of their body and on into the afterlife. On this wall there is a depiction of twelve baboons in boxes, above them is a scene of boat carrying a giant scarab and next to that a scene depicting the first gods and goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon. This wall has been recreated as one enters the exhibition, magical doors opening to let one through to see the wonders that Carter’s eyes first fell upon back in 1922.
The first three rooms of the gallery are dedicated to the exhibits found at the site; the fourth room tells Howard Carter’s story as well as the influence that Tutankhamun has had on society since he was found. The boy king’s legend grows each year, which is quite ironic since his father’s name and his own were anathema after their deaths and the ancient Egyptians did their best to cover up this difficult time in their religious past. Long live King Tutankhamun and may his name live forever!