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Tutankhamun Treasures to Return to Britain after 35 Years
Marking the first time the treasures of Tutankhamun have visited Britain in more than 30 years, it was today announced that National Geographic, AEG Exhibitions and Arts and Exhibitions International, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and sponsored by Credit Suisse, will bring an extensive exhibition of more than 130 treasures from the tomb of the celebrated pharaoh, other Valley of the Kings tombs and additional ancient sites to The O2 in London on November 15, 2007. “Since the discovery of his tomb in 1922, Tutankhamun has captured the hearts of people around the world. Buried with him were treasures beyond the imagination, giving us a glittering glimpse into the past,” said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. “It has been more than 30 years since the golden artefacts of the boy-king last left their home in Egypt. Now, Tutankhamun is back, giving a new generation the chance to learn first hand about the life and magic of this ancient monarch.” The exhibition will include 50 major objects excavated from Tutankhamun’s tomb, including his royal diadem — the gold crown discovered encircling the head of the king’s mummified body that he likely wore while living — and one of the gold and precious stone inlaid canopic coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs. Currently, the exhibition which is touring four major US cities, has been enjoyed by over 3 million people, setting records in each host city. Unique to the London-based exhibition will be a dedicated gallery to Howard Carter, the British archaeologist who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Howard Carter gallery will explore the excavation works and will provide insights into the life of Carter whose tenacity led to the eventual discovery of the best preserved and most intact pharaonic tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings. More than 70 objects from other royal graves of the 18th Dynasty (1555 B.C.-1305 B.C.) will be showcased as well, including those of pharaohs Amenhotep ll and Thutmose lV and the rich, intact tomb of Yuya and Tuyu, parents-in-law of Amenhotep lll and great-grandparents of Tutankhamun. Yuya and Tuyu’s tomb was the most celebrated historical find in the Valley of the Kings until Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s undisturbed burial chamber in 1922. All of the treasures in the exhibit are between 3,300 and 3,500 years old. “Egypt’s ancient treasures are among the world’s greatest cultural legacies, and we’re delighted that British audiences will have an opportunity to view some of the most important artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb and other famous sites,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president. “The exhibit, which builds on National Geographic’s long and valued relationship with Egypt, will further promote cultural understanding and conservation of Egypt’s priceless antiquities.” Revenue generated from the world tour will go toward preserving Egypt’s treasures and building a new Grand Museum in Cairo. The exhibition will draw visitors back in time with inventive design and innovative technology, allowing viewers to explore and experience the world of King Tutankhamun. They will come face to face with his contemporaries, see and hear about the fascinating times in which the young king lived and learn how his short reign changed history. The exhibition will also feature National Geographic images and film footage about the golden age of the pharaohs and three-dimensional CT scan images of Tutankhamun, captured through the use of a portable CT scanner, donated by Siemens Medical Solutions. The scanning of Tutankhamun’s mummy is part of a landmark, Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by National Geographic, that will CT-scan the ancient mummies of Egypt. Some of the treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb were last displayed in the UK in 1972 and attracted some 1.7 million visitors and set travelling exhibition attendance records. The British Museum hosted the previous Tutankhamun exhibition and will once again participate in the new display. “We are thrilled at Tutankhamun’s return to London and look forward to assisting the exhibition, providing educational content and curatorial advice,” said Vivian Davies, Keeper of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan British Museum. Tutankhamun will be the first exhibition to take place in The O2, Europe’s newest and most advanced entertainment destination, which is due to open its doors in July 2007. The exhibition centre, called The O2 Bubble in reference to its unique shape, is arranged on two levels, covering over 6500 m2. “We are honoured to work with such a prestigious team of partners including National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions International to bring this important exhibit to Britain,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, President and CEO, AEG Worldwide. “Millions will have the opportunity to view into the reaches of the past and be impacted by the rich culture and history the artefacts represent.” Michael Philipp, Chairman of Credit Suisse in the EMEA region said, “We are proud to be part of this important exhibition. We look forward to sharing this unique cultural event with our employees, clients and the local community.” Credit Suisse is the presenting sponsor of the exhibition and a founding partner of The O2. Visit London is also lending significant support to the exhibition to ensure that tourists from throughout Europe and the world have the opportunity to see Tutankhamun in London. “We are delighted to welcome Tutankhamun back to London. This awe-inspiring exhibition will undoubtedly draw hundreds of thousands of people to London to experience the wonders of ancient Egyptian culture, against the state-of-the-art backdrop of The O2. It’s another reason why the opening of The O2 will be one of the most exciting events of the year,” said James Bidwell, Chief Executive, Visit London. National Geographic will publish a companion book to the exhibit – “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” by Zahi Hawass which features the artefacts found in Tutankhamun’s tomb and treasures of other 18th-Dynasty pharaohs. For more information on the exhibition, please visit www.visitlondon.com/tut or www.KingTut.org.