Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pyramids Are Oh, So Fine. Egypt. Egypt.*

So we just made the fastest across-the-state trip ever to see the King Tut exhibit in Ft. Lauderdale. Maggie was still getting over the plague and Marin started showing signs of being the next in our family to succumb, so Jose freaked out about being so far from home and their pediatrician. Therefore, we went to the exhibit and then left for home a mere 12 hours after arriving in the city. However, I'm happy to report that Marin and her immune system of steel have already quashed the plague germs for the most part, and we did have a good time at the exhibit.

First of all, my cheapass husband, God bless his cute, cheap self, talked me out of buying the audio tour of the exhibit, narrated by Omar Sharif. If you go, get the audio tour. For one thing, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, seeing objects from King Tut's tomb and others, and therefore you should enjoy it to the hilt. I was kicking myself the entire time for succumbing to Jose's cheapass peer pressure. For another, there will be plenty of annoying people with headphones hovering interminably next to the display cases with numbers indicating they are audio tour stops and preventing you from seeing what's inside. So when you finally do worm your way to one of the numbered cases, you might as well annoy the people behind you by hovering and listening to Omar's pearls of wisdom yourself.

Second, the objects that were in Tut's tomb look incredibly new, having been sealed away in a dry climate for three-thousand years. Ergo, they look shockingly like reproductions, not 3000-year-old antiquities. Ergo, I had a really hard time wrapping my head around the fact that these things were REALLY 3,000 years old and REALLY from King Tut's tomb and that I was REALLY not in the Museum Store looking at stuff I could buy. But honestly, despite my mental block, it was still an amazing experience to see this exhibit. The unique faces on each shabti figurine, the detailed semi-precious stone inlay work, the delicate hammered gold covering Tut's aunt's giant sarcophagus--it was all mind-blowingly amazing. I could have stared at just about every display for hours. Except that I had herds of audio-tourists glaring holes into my back when I lingered too long.

If you've watched too many Egyptian documentaries on the Discovery channel like I have, you know that Akhenaten was Tut's father and the one pharoah (that I know of, anyway) who tried to convert Egypt to a monotheistic religion. Akhenaten has one of the most singular and recognizable faces that I've seen on said documentaries--whether in paintings or reliefs or statues. And to see that face staring down at me in the form of a giant stone head from Karnuk was pretty amazing.

Common wisdom has always held that Tuthankamun was murdered by a blow to the head--most likely by his advisor, Eye, according to the last Discovery Channel documentary I've seen. Well, one of the big shockers of the exhibit was that researchers took thousands of CT scans of Tut's mummy in 2005 and have concluded that he was not murdered but probably died in an accident, such as a fall from a chariot.

The one disappointment was that although Tut's gold funerary mask (see the entry below)--which is probably THE most famous relic in all of Egyptology and immediately recognizable even to people who aren't as nerdy as I am--was not part of the exhibit, despite being shown in ALL of the advertisements and on the cover of the exhibit guide. Nor were any of his sarcophagi, though his aunt's was on display. Apparently, Cairo won't let these items leave the city. NOT that I can blame them, but I was still disappointed not to have seen them. Oh, well. I'll simply have to go to Egypt someday.

All in all, the exhibit was too short, a little disappointing due to some missing objects that advertisements seemed to hint would be there, but still a fascinating experience.

Coolest item: Akhenaten's giant stone head from Karnuk, as well as one of Tut's crowns.
Item I'd most want in my house: The only extant example of a trunk with carrying poles. The jewel inlay was pretty without being garish, and it'd make a great coffee table.
Jose's favorite item: Tut's solid gold dagger
Grossest item: There were no mummies on display, so the exhibit was surprisingly lacking a gross-out factor. Maybe the canopic jar that once held Tut's aunt's intestines would be the best fit here. They also had a coffinette that had held some of Tut's internal organs, but for some reason, the fact that the jar had the word "intestines" in the display overview makes it grosser.
Weirdest souvenier in the souvenier shop: The King Tut Tissue Box Cover.


* Jose came up with the title for this blog, having sung it pretty much all throughout our trip to Ft. Lauderdale. We aren't sure where it's from but suspect it's a line from Steve Martin's song, "King Tut."

4 comments:

The Queen-a Athena said...

The exhibit sounds incredible, Tracy - too bad the girls are too young to remember it, because that really is a once in a lifetime thing. Makes me wish they'd be coming near here!

Alas and alack, the line isn't from Steve Martin's King Tut. DOn't know where it IS from, but here's the lyrics to Stevie's memorable song:

King Tut lyrics

Artist - Steve Martin
Album - Various Songs
Lyrics - King Tut

King Tut (King Tut)
Now when he was a young man,
He never thought he'd see
People stand in line to see the boy king.

(King Tut) How'd you get so funky?
(funky Tut) Did you do the monkey?
Born in Arizona,
Moved to Babylonia (king Tut).

(king Tut) Now, if I'd known
they'd line up just to see him,
I'd trade in all my money
And bought me a museum. (king Tut)

Buried with a donkey (funky Tut)
He's my favorite honkey!
Born in Arizona,
Moved to Babylonia (king Tut)

Dancin' by the Nile, (Disco Tut)
The ladies love his style, (boss Tut)
Rockin' for a mile (rockin' Tut)
He ate a crocodile.

He gave his life for tourism.
Golden idol!
He's an Egyptian
They're sellin' you.

Now, when I die,
now don't think I'm a nut,
don't want no fancy funeral,
Just one like ole king Tut. (king Tut)

He coulda won a Grammy,
Buried in his Jammies,
Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia,
He was born in Arizona, got a condo made of stone-a,
King Tut!

Tracy Montoya said...

It was awesome, Chris. I don't know why they didn't at least show it at the Smithsonian in DC, which wouldn't have been in your backyard, but more doable than the other sites.

So where the heck is this line from? Maybe it was a cartoon or something. Now this is going to bother me....

Peter said...

This sounds fantastic. I am really looking forward to the King Tut Exhibit coming to Chicago's Field Museum. I wonder if it's the same one. They are certainly pulling the same cheap trick of putting the Tut sarcophagus in all the ads. Now, I've just got to figure out when to go the museum to avoid such the big crowds of gawkers!

By the way, I'm still laughing about poor, cheap Jose.

Tracy Montoya said...

Peter, I believe it is the same one. If you go to www.kingtut.org, you'll see that the Tut exhibit I saw in Ft. Lauderdale is also traveling to Chicago and Philadelphia, as well as London.

I'd go mid-week in the morning. Going on a Saturday kind of blew. (And get the audio tour!)

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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