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TUTANKHAMUN’S

TUTANKHAMUN’S TREASURES As the groundbreaking Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition continues its world tour, curator Tarek El Awady discusses how it came about How did you become involved with the Tutankhamun exhibition? I studied archaeology at Cairo University and got my Ph.D. from Charles University in the Czech Republic. I was first appointed as Inspector of Antiquities for the Supreme Council of Antiquities at the Ministry of Antiquities in 1994. I worked on the excavation of the Giza Pyramids, Sakkara and Bahariya Oasis as a member of the Egyptian Archaeological Mission, then I became the deputy field director of the excavation of the Valley of the Kings and the field director of the excavation in Abusir. In 2010, I became the director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and in 2015 I became the director of the Archaeological Museum of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. In early 2018 I was appointed as the curator of the exhibition, working to create the exhibition that is touring ten cities in the world for the last time before the king’s treasures are moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum. Can you tell us a bit about the discovery of the tomb? On November 4, 1922, English Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the intact tomb of Tutankhamun (more commonly spelled Tutankhamen and popularly known as King Tut). Carter’s discovery proved that the long-believed PHOTOS: © LABORATORIOROSSO, VITERBO, ITALY 116 VIKING.COM EXPLORE MORE 2020

CULTURE statement made by the American adventurer and excavator Theodore Davis that there was nothing left to be discovered in the Valley of the Kings was not true. It is ironic that Carter actually found the tomb of Tutankhamun just two meters away from where Davis had stopped his excavation effort! Although King Tut spent only a decade on the throne, his tomb was packed with more than 5,000 artifacts that represented everything the king might need in his final resting place, and for his journey to the afterlife. The tomb was equipped with tiny objects like simple arrows and bows, but also contained the king’s chariots, funerary beds, shrines and magnificent nest of coffins. King Tut’s treasure was moved by Carter and his team from Luxor to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, leaving only the king’s mummy in the outer coffin inside the tomb. Thanks to the first-class conservation work by Alfred Lucas and the dry weather in Egypt, the treasures of Tutankhamun are still well preserved today. What is the legacy of Tutankhamun and the ancient Egyptians in the modern world? The discovery opened a wide window for archaeologists and the public to look closely at the lost world of the pharaohs. However, since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Egypt has found out that the king and his treasure also offer insights into modern-day Egypt. In fact, Tutankhamun is considered Egypt’s best ambassador to the world, and there have always been cultural, political and economical reasons for sending the king’s treasure to tour the world. For example, the 1967 exhibition in France raised funds for saving Nubian monuments and helped restore Egypt and France’s long relationship after the damage caused by the 1956 war on Egypt following the Suez Canal crisis. The king’s tour in the US during the 1970s also improved the countries’ relationship. Also, Egypt sent a new Tutankhamun exhibition to tour the world in 2004, starting in Switzerland, to help strengthen Egypt’s appeal to visitors. What do you think makes this exhibition so special? Egypt has allowed only a few objects to travel abroad to tour the world—until now. This new exhibition is, however, the largest Tutankhamun collection to leave Egypt and commemorates 100 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. There are 150 magnificent artifacts associated with Tutankhamun on display to the public, 60 of which have never left Egypt before! These objects are masterpieces of ancient art. The exhibition is designed to allow visitors to accompany the golden pharaoh on his magical journey to the afterlife and presents the recent discoveries about Tutankhamun’s life and death, his family, and his treasures. These were possible with the help of modern technology, such as CT scans and DNA analysis, being utilized by researchers. What are your favorite artifacts within the exhibition and why? The guardian statue of Tutankhamun is one of my favorite pieces. One can still see in this masterpiece of art the magic, the passion and the perfection of ancient Egypt. The look on the face of the guardian always makes me feel that everything is in the right order and that the universe still holds balance! The trumpet of Tutankhamun is not just the oldest musical instrument which still exists and can still be played from the ancient world, but it is also the only tool that can actually connect us with the world of the pharaohs and allow us to listen and hear sounds from that magical world. The wishing cup of Tutankhamun is also a breathtaking artifact. The hieroglyphic text on the rim reads: “May your Ka (soul) live thousands of years, may your eyes see wonderful things!” What are your tips for Viking guests visiting Egypt? I would advise Viking guests to enjoy Egypt—the sun, the food and the rich history of the country. And a Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor makes everyone feel as if they are on a time machine ride to ancient Egypt. Clockwise, from above: Dr. Tarek El Awady at work; a gilded wooden shrine depicting images of Tutankhamun; the Colossal Statue of Tutankhamun; a gilded wooden bed found in the tomb; an impressive statue of Tutankhamun EXPLORE MORE 2020 VIKING.COM 117