• Annemarie Rawson

TUTANKHAMUN EXHIBITION: SAATCHI GALLERY, LONDON

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

Project yourself back 3300 years to the Valley of the Kings, Egypt. You can’t. It’s impossible. But the exhibition and audio guide will give you a great insight into the discovery of the young pharaoh’s magnificent tomb and the artifacts hidden within and also their belief in gods, superstition and magic. This exhibition allows you to view 150 of the 5,000+ treasures found when Howard Carter opened the tomb in 1923. Howard had been searching since 1915 for Tutankhamen and finally got lucky in 1922. What a patient man! He was funded by Lord Carnarvon in all his explorations. The finding of Tutankhamen’s tomb was to be the final “dig” and it all happened when his water boy found a step - it led down into the tomb. This is the last time any of these masterpieces can be viewed outside of Egypt. At the end of this exhibition everything will be returned and held, with everything else discovered, in the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. When the young KingTut died, at the young age of 19, Egypt’s top artisans were called in to create everything he would need in the “afterlife”. The skill of those craftsmen from 3300 years ago, was incredible. It was rumoured Tutankhamen died from a blow to the head but this was dismissed once xrays and CT scans had been done. He was a frail young man with a club foot. He most likely died from his weakened state and infections. It was an interesting and stunning exhibition which we shared with Bridget and Richard as well as coffee, a sandwich and a long overdue catchup. If you are interested in hearing about the cursed trumpet from the tomb, read on .... it’s a bit frightening . Thank god it will never be played again. THE STORY OF THE CURSED TRUMPET We have all heard the warnings against disturbing the treasure of the pharaohs. But while many of the myths and legends surrounding the tombs of ancient Egyptian rulers have been dismissed as simple coincidences, there’s one that’s a bit more troubling. A pair of trumpets, one made of silver and the other bronze, were among the treasures buried with the boy-king Tutankhamun. Hala Hassan, curator of the Tutankhamun collection at the Egyptian Museum, has said that the bronze trumpet has "magical powers" and that "whenever someone blows into it a war occurs”. The trumpets have been very rarely played since Howard Carter opened Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Silent for over 3,000 years, the instruments were played before a live radio audience of up to 150 million through a worldwide BBC broadcast in 1939. An unexpected power failure blacked out lights across Cairo and the concert had to take place by candlelight. Rex Keating, who presented the BBC broadcast, said that during rehearsals the silver trumpet cracked and Alfred Lucas, a member of Carter's team who had restored the finds, was so distressed he needed to go to hospital. Later that year, the world erupted in the bloodiest war in history. The trumpets have only been played twice since. Once before the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and then again immediately before the 1991 Gulf War broke out. “A week before the revolution, during a documenting and photographing process, one of the museum’s staff had blown into it and a week after revolution broke out,” according to Ahram, Egypt’s leading newspaper. “The same thing had happened before the 1967 war and prior to the 1991 gulf war, when a student was doing a comprehensive research on Tutankhamun’s collection. The bronze trumpet was stolen from the Cairo museum during a riot in 2011, but was mysteriously returned to the museum a few months later. The instruments are, experts say, too fragile to ever be played again.

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© 2020 by Annemarie Rawson

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