"What can you see?" asked the people behind archaeologist Howard Carter as he peered through a newly dug hole into the tomb chamber of the boy king Tutankhamun in 1922. "Wonderful things!" gasped Carter. And it was true.
Up to then it seemed that all the tombs of the pharaohs of Egypt in the Valley of the Kings had been ransacked by graverobbers long ago: archaeologists found mummies, but no gold. Somehow this young ruler's tomb had never been touched. Carter found its treasures piled around the walls inside the secret chamber, perfectly preserved in the sealed vault, just as they looked the day the tomb was closed. Now you can see them, quite as perfect, in Manchester – with one catch.
The exhibition Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures, which opened at the Trafford Centre on Friday, boasts the very room that amazed Carter 88 years ago. Golden beds, chairs, chariots, chests and portraits are heaped as they were when he peeked through that tiny aperture: the death mask of Tutankhamun, one of the most astonishing works of art on earth, is here. The only trouble is, none of it is real. All the marvels are reproductions, modelled with digital technology and expertly crafted to mimic the originals, at a cost of £4.4m.
Does it matter?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Exhibition: Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures,
The Guardian, UK (Jonathan Jones)