That Famous Pharaoh

He is probably the most famous Egyptian pharaoh, and arguably the least important. His primary claim to fame is that grave robbers, for the most part, missed his tomb.

Until the twentieth century that is. Then the wealth of Tutankhamen was discovered for the world to see. There are thousands of artifacts that have toured the world or been put on display in Egyptian museums.

The treasure of the other pharaohs has been gone for millennia, probably melted down for its gold by those who plundered the pyramids and other tombs. Given the riches of King Tut found by archeologist Howard Carter in 1922, we can only imagine how much more there was stolen from those other burial sites.

I have a vague memory of having seen the wealth of Tutankhamen on display, but I think that is more a childhood memory of reading a National Geographic magazine when some of the treasures did go on tour. I may have walked by the Toronto venue in 1979, but I didn’t go in.

When I visited The Egyptian Museum in Cairo in May, I wasn’t thinking about King Tut. Time was limited, and it had been suggested if you were only going to visit one museum in the city, then this was the one. There certainly was a lot to absorb, and I will be sharing some thoughts and pictures from the museum in the days and weeks to come.

If you want to see Tutankhamen’s artifacts, all of them are to be housed in the new Grand Egyptian Museum , located neat the Great Pyramids of Giza, which , after years of delays, is supposed to be open later this year. In the meantime, there are a few on display elsewhere, including in The Egyptian Museum.

Unlike in the rest of the museum, for some reason there is a strict no photography rule in the room that houses these artifacts. Or at least there was when I was there – sometimes it seems rules change depending on who is working security that day.

That means today’s pictures are not my best work, but they were taken without actually looking at where the camera was pointing and hoping no-one would hear the shutter click. Normally i observe such local rules scrupulously, but some things are so iconic that perhaps an exception is understandable. And it isn’t as if I was the only one, though it was easier for those with camera phones to conceal their actions.

There is only a tiny number of artifacts from King Tut’s tomb on display at The Egyptian Museum – less than one per cent of all that was found. Maybe just enough to convince a person that on a future trip to Egypt the Grand Egyptian Museum will be a must.

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