On the road: King Tut goes to Denver
October 11, 2010
DENVER – Everybody in the Roaring Fork Valley makes periodic trips to Denver. The reasons are many and they vary with each excursion, but I’m here to add another reason to the list.
An amazing exhibit of ancient Egyptian relics from the tomb of King Tut is now at the Denver Art Museum – yes, the one that looks like a haphazard stack of cardboard boxes – and it’s really something to see. Several weeks ago I took my kids down to the Front Range to visit friends, take a birthday trip to Elitch Gardens, and to see Tut; we spent about 90 minutes touring the exhibit, and my children and I were equally enthralled.
You won’t see Tut’s actual golden coffin (although there is a nifty video that illustrates the series of 10 “nested” coffins, the innermost of which is solid gold), but there are numerous other treasures of gold, jewels, stone and clay that both dazzle the eyes and serve to explain Egyptian views on burial and the afterlife.
My personal favorite artifact, and the one shown in most of the marketing materials for the exhibit, is a gold “coffinette” that originally contained the young king’s stomach. While gazing at this elaborate, 15-inch-high creation of gold and inlaid semi-precious stones, I learned that Tut’s stomach, liver, intestines and lungs were all removed and individually entombed. These organs were deemed vital for survival in the afterlife.
Also on view are the golden sandals that were placed on the feet of Tutankhamun’s mummy. Egyptians believed that gold was the flesh of the gods, and since their kings became gods after death, they required proper footwear. My kids wandered back and forth through the exhibition, which unfolds like a series of burial chambers, stopping multiple times to gawk through the glass at certain finely detailed objects and huge, imposing stone statues.
The kids also made sure that I saw an ancient limestone toilet seat, which wasn’t found in Tut’s tomb but appeared in the collection as sort of a bonus.
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Go see this exhibit while you can. It’s in Denver until Jan. 9, and I wouldn’t expect it back soon. The last time a similar exhibition came to the U.S. – remember the song “King Tut” by Steve Martin? – was the 1970s.