King Tutankhamun, commonly referred to as King Tut, was a pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled during a tumultuous period, from around 1332 BC to 1323 BC. Despite his relatively short life, King Tut’s legacy has persisted through the millennia, thanks to the discovery of his nearly intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. The discovery stunned the world, providing profound insight into ancient Egyptian life and royal burial practices.
As of the last known records up to 2021, King Tutankhamun’s mummy remains in the Valley of the Kings, located near Luxor in Egypt. It was decided that the best way to preserve the pharaoh’s remains was to keep them in the environment they’ve been in for over three millennia, that is, in his tomb (KV62). The tomb has since become a pilgrimage site for scholars, archaeologists, and tourists alike.
There are a few reasons why his mummy is displayed in the Valley of the Kings?
Preservation: The conditions in the Valley of the Kings, particularly in the tomb, have naturally preserved King Tut’s mummy for over 3,000 years. Any attempt to move the mummy would expose it to a host of environmental factors that could potentially degrade its condition.
Respect for Cultural Heritage: The tomb of King Tutankhamun is a crucial part of Egyptian heritage. Keeping the mummy in its original resting place maintains the sanctity and cultural context of the pharaoh’s life and death.
Tourism: The discovery of King Tut’s tomb has spurred significant interest in ancient Egyptian history and has become a key attraction for tourists visiting Egypt. Retaining the mummy in its original location provides visitors with an authentic experience of standing in the same chamber where the young pharaoh has rested for thousands of years.
In 2007, a significant shift occurred in the display of King Tut’s mummy. Prior to this, his remains were housed within the nested coffins and sarcophagus, as Carter had found them. However, to better preserve the mummy and to allow visitors a closer look, Egyptian authorities decided to move King Tut’s remains to a climate-controlled display case inside his burial chamber.
When visitors enter the tomb, they’re met with the sight of King Tutankhamun’s mummy, enclosed in a clear, oxygen-free case, protecting it from the elements and the wear of time. His linen-wrapped body, with its golden death mask, offers a poignant reminder of Egypt’s ancient history and the mysteries of the young pharaoh’s life and reign.
While King Tut’s mummy remains in the Valley of the Kings, many of the artifacts discovered in his tomb have been exhibited in various locations around the world. The most prominent permanent display was at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
However, a new chapter in the exhibition of Tutankhamun’s treasures began with the development of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) near the Giza Pyramids. Once fully operational, this state-of-the-art facility aims to showcase thousands of artifacts from King Tut’s tomb, among other Egyptian antiquities. The GEM is set to become the world’s largest archaeological museum, offering visitors an unparalleled journey into ancient Egypt’s heart.
One of the main attractions at the GEM is the King Tutankhamun (commonly known as King Tut) exhibit. Here are some noteworthy aspects of this exhibit:
Comprehensive Collection: The museum is slated to house and display the complete collection of over 5,000 items from Tutankhamun’s tomb. This will be the first time that all the items from the young pharaoh’s tomb will be displayed together.
State-of-the-art Displays: The GEM incorporates the latest in museum technology, ensuring that the artifacts are not only well-preserved but also presented in a way that helps visitors immerse themselves in the story and context of the items.
Golden Mask and Coffin: Among the many priceless treasures found in King Tut’s tomb, his golden mask is arguably the most iconic. This stunning artifact, made of solid gold and weighing about 11 kg, captures the likeness of the young pharaoh and is adorned with precious stones. Additionally, the museum will showcase the golden coffin of Tutankhamun, a spectacular piece that had undergone restoration work.
Context and Storytelling: Instead of merely showcasing items, the exhibit is designed to provide visitors with an understanding of the historical and cultural context in which King Tut lived. The GEM aims to offer a storytelling approach, narrating the life of the pharaoh, his death, the discovery of his tomb, and its significance.
Discovery and Excavation: The exhibit also delves into the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by Howard Carter in 1922, which was a significant archaeological find given that the tomb was largely intact. Multimedia presentations and perhaps replicas of diary entries and photographs from the excavation process enhance this part of the exhibit.
Conservation Lab: The GEM houses a conservation lab where visitors can potentially see experts working on the preservation of artifacts. This aspect provides insight into the meticulous work that goes behind preserving ancient artifacts for future generations.