TUTANKHAMUN – And The Golden Age Of Pharaohs

Now at San Francisco’s de Young Musem

Thirty years since the Treasures of Tutankhamun set attendance records and changed the face of museum exhibitions, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
has arrived at the de Young Museum. The treasure will be in residence through March 28, 2010. The 130 artifacts in Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs present a larger, more comprehensive display that places King Tut in the expanded context of Egypt’s 18th dynasty, its “Golden Age.” Fifty objects from Tut’s tomb are featured, including his golden diadem, the dagger found wrapped in his mummy’s linen bandages, and the miniature inlaid golden coffinette that held his mummified liver.

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Granite Statue of Tutankhamun. Photo, Bill Wilson

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Coffinette for the Viscera of Tutankhamun.  Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332-1322 BC).  Gold, carnelian, obsidian, rock crystal, glass. Photo, Bill Wilson

Eighty other objects of stone, faience and wood from the tombs of other pharaohs such as Amenhotep III, Tuthmosis IV and Akhenaten, as well as other 18th dynasty royalty inform the viewer about daily life in ancient Egypt and the burial practices of pharaohs and the elite. The exhibition includes works of sculpture, burial artifacts, jewelry, decorative arts, household objects, weapons, sarcophagi and personal objects, all more than 3,000 years old.

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Inlaid Broad Collar and Counterweight. Gold, carnelian, glass. Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Tutankhamun. Photo, Seán Martinfield

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Elaborately Decorated Chest. Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III. Wood, Ivory, ebony, faience. Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Yuya and Tjuya. Photos, Seán Martinfield

The de Young’s presentation includes four objects new to the exhibition since its last presentation on the west coast in 2005:
– two diminutive, nested fetal coffinettes which held the remains of two female fetuses that are speculated to have been the children of King Tut. The remains are currently undergoing DNA analysis the results of which will be announced in the coming months;
– a scarab bracelet of gold, precious stones and glass highlighted by a Kheper beetle of carved lapis lazuli holding a neb basket which forms a partial rebus of Tut’s name. The bracelet shows signs of wear and its small size suggests that it was worn by Tut as a child;
– an elaborate pectoral of gold, silver, electrum and semiprecious stones incorporating both solar and lunar imagery, a masterpiece of jewelry making, that was found with Tut’s coronation pectoral in his tomb. This pendant would have served an amuletic as well as decorative purpose, protecting Tut from evil forces.

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Howard Carter cleans the second coffin. Photo, Harry Burton

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Statue of Herwer (Horus the Elder). Gilded wood. Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Tutankhamun. Photo, Bill Wilson.
Box in the Shape of a Cartouche. Wood, ebony and ivory. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun. Photo, Seán Martinfield

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Gilded Coffin of Tjuya. Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III (1390-1353 BC) Gilded wood. Photo, McMillan Group

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Detail, Gilded Coffin of Tjuya. Photo, Seán Martinfield

“San Francisco is a perfect place for King Tut,” said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. “I want everyone in California to know that the boy king has come to town, and I personally invite everyone to see this great exhibition so that a new generation of people will experience the history and magic of the boy king.”

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Through the looking glass – Gavin Newsom and Zahi Hawass, projection of Barack Obama. Photo, Bill Wilson

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AKHENATEN. Photo, Seán Martinfield

“Since a trip to Egypt is out of reach for most people, we are bringing a collection of King Tut’s exquisite treasures back to the de Young so that the Bay Area can experience the beauty of the Golden Age of ancient Egypt,” said John E. Buchanan, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “The first Tut show in 1979 was the most popular exhibition ever to be presented at the de Young. We look forward to providing this new educational and cultural exploration as part of our 30-year tradition of hosting exhibitions that feature ancient art and antiquities at the Fine Arts Museums.”

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Child’s Chair with Footrest. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332-1322 BC). Chair- ebony and ivory. Footrest- wood and ivory. Photo, Seán Martinfield

A portion of the proceeds generated from the exhibition’s world tour is being used to help preserve Egypt’s treasures, including the construction of a new museum in Cairo where antiquities will be housed.

“Egypt’s ancient treasures are among the world’s greatest cultural legacies,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president for mission programs. “This tour provides a rare opportunity to view these amazing artifacts from ancient Egyptian sites while participating in the conservation of important world history, as proceeds from this exhibition are helping fund antiquities preservation efforts in Egypt.”

Since opening in June 2005, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs has drawn nearly 6 million visitors in Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and London. The exhibition began its US encore tour in Dallas at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) on October 3, 2008 and concluded its run on May 17, 2009.

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Cosmetic Jar with a Recumbent Lion on the Lid. Calcite, ivory, gold. Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Tutankhamun. Photos, Seán Martinfield

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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