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Author Topic: AKHENATEN/TUTANKHAMUN  (Read 67033 times)
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« Reply #1125 on: June 23, 2009, 08:51:30 am »

Jewel of the Nile:
An ornate breast plate featuring potent Egyptian symbols is one of the pieces not to be missed in “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” which is opening Saturday at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

(Courtesy photo)

                                                               The King Tut mystique

By: Leslie Katz
Examiner Staff Writer

— Come early and come often. That’s one tip Fine Arts Museums Director John Buchanan has for visitors to the big King Tut exhibit opening Saturday at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.

“It’s likely to be an experience best enjoyed more than once,” says Buchanan, who’s been working on the highly anticipated “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” show since he took the museum’s top post more than three years ago. 

He points to differences between this newly organized, expanded exhibition and the one that took The City by storm 30 years ago.

In 1979, there were 50 works of art from Tut’s tomb; now, there are 130 artifacts and items from tombs of  Tut and members of his immediate family.

“There’s more of a textural understanding of King Tut as a person; we know more about him now,” says Buchanan of the boy who ruled Egypt from 1333 to 1324 B.C., and who has intrigued humans since British archeologist Howard Carter uncovered his burial place in 1922.

For example, Buchanan says, as a result of DNA and other modern technology, “We might suspect that Tut died from breaking a leg, something we would not have known in 1979.”

Buchanan sees something new each time he explores the exhibition, but points to two pieces that particularly appeal to him. 

The first is subtle — a fragment of a stone balustrade from a royal palace in Amarna depicting Akhenaten praying to the sun.

“Rays of light are coming down, there’s the symbol of the ankh — it’s breathtaking,” Buchanan says. “Don’t miss it.”

In contrast, there’s a magnificent jeweled breast plate that was found in Tut’s mummy.

“It’s a tour de force of goldsmithing,” he says. “Each motif is about life in the afterworld. It’ll make your mouth drop open.”

The exhibit-as-phenomenon stems from the fact that the young ruler has an aura and mystique unmatched among figures in Western civilization. The fact that Tut came to power at age 9, and died an enigmatic, sudden death in his teens, fuels the ongoing fascination.

Buchanan says the show’s popularity can in part be explained through its connection to humans’ universal fascination with death, and thoughts about the afterlife.

Among the biggest challenges of the huge project, Buchanan says,   has been to secure funding so that San Francisco sixth-graders can see the exhibit for free.

As for fun, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, Buchanan believes the best will come with the arrival of Zahi Hawass, TV personality and secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

“He’s quite a man — the Indiana Jones of Egypt,” Buchanan says. “I’m sure he’ll have some stories.”
« Last Edit: June 25, 2009, 11:42:35 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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