Africa Geographic Travel

5 things I learnt from King Tutankhamun

The Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures Exhibition that is currently on at Grand West Casino in Cape Town allows visitors to step back in time 3,300 years to the days of the legendary King Tutankhamun. The exhibition shows, through detailed replicas, how the burial and treasure chambers of the young pharaoh would have looked upon discovery and brings to life the story of this amazing find and the history of Egypt’s ‘Boy King’.

Golden Mask of Tutankhamun

© A.M. v. Sarosdy/SC Exhibitions

Here are 5 things that King Tut taught me:

1. You are never too young to make a difference.

King Tutankhamun rose to the throne at around eight years of age and was responsible for reversing much of the disliked decisions made by his father, Pharaoh Akhenaten, during his reign. He brought back traditional beliefs, restored relations with other kingdoms and seemed to turn the country away from the economic turmoil created at the hand of his father. By the year of death, at just age 18, King Tut had made a vast difference to the Egyptian way of life.

king tut exhibition

© Janine Mare

2. Even tough guys have a soft side.

Discovered in the undisturbed tomb of the mighty and powerful King Tutankhamun were two tiny replicas of his own coffin. One coffin held the mummy of a newborn baby girl and one was even smaller – holding the mummified remains of a premature baby. These stillborn babies are thought to be the only children of the mighty Tutankhamun. According to the exhibition, this particular find really moved the archaeologists who believed he must have held these tiny humans very dear to his heart.

miniature coffins king tut

The miniature coffin ensemble at the exhibition © A.M. v. Sarosdy/SC Exhibitions

3. The importance of never giving up and believing in yourself.

The above statement I did not learn directly from the pharaoh himself, but from the man that uncovered his tomb – Howard Carter. Year upon year Carter worked tirelessly to find a tomb that some believed didn’t exist. After all, King Tut’s name was essentially erased from history by his successors.

Howard Carter in the King Tutankhamen's tomb

Howard Carter in the King Tutankhamen’s tomb

In 1922 Howard Carter managed to convince his financier to back him for one last try and it is due to his determination and belief in the Egyptian ‘forgotten king’ that Egyptian history was awarded with its greatest and most famous find – a virtually untouched pharaoh’s tomb that provided countless insights into this ancient civilisation.

king tutankhamun exhibition

© Janine Mare

4. There are some things we will never understand – and thats OK.

The discovery of the Rosetta Stone finally gave ancient historians a key, via an Ancient Greek translation, on how to decipher hieroglyphics. This great discovery provided insight into a language that had baffled the world.

Rosetta Stone

The original Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. © Hans Hillewaert

On discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamum, Howard Carter found that the pharaoh was buried in four golden shrines, stacked within each other much like Russian nesting dolls. Each shrine was ornately decorated with with images of gods, scenes of the afterlife, winged goddesses and hieroglyphics – some of which is still is not understood to this day. But for me that is part of the magic of the great Egyptians – there are just some things that will never be understood and that is okay. To me, that is the mystery and the appeal of this mind-boggling civilisation.

king tutunkhamun exhibition

© Janine Mare

5. All the preparation in the world is never enough.

It is said that a pharaoh began to prepare for his burial the moment he was crowned but an unfortunate and early death for the boy king meant he probably was not as prepared as he would have liked to be. Certain artefacts found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb show evidence that they had been altered to add his name and were thought to have been originally crafted for someone else or are the reused objects of a previous pharaoh. Some have even suggested that he may have been buried in haste, even possibly while the paint was still wet on the walls of his tomb. All of this also contributes to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the young king around which there is much debate with theories ranging from a violent assassination to medical complications brought on by a broken leg, to genetic defects and even malaria.

king tutunkhamun exhibition

© SC Exhibitions

The Tutankhamun exhibition is open at Grand West Casino seven days a week until the 27th of September 2015 and tickets range from R100 – R160 per person. Make sure to give yourself enough time to explore the exhibition – it took us two and a half hours to walk through the exhibition at an average pace – and I could have easily stayed all day! The audio guides given to you at the beginning are a real treat as they provide commentary at each section of the exhibition – with special guides even created for children, while the exhibition boards provide a host of more information for avid Egypt enthusiasts. For more information or to purchase tickets visit the exhibition’s website here.

Leupold


Janine Avery

I am the first to confess that I have been bitten by the travel bug… badly. I am a lover of all things travel from basic tenting with creepy crawlies to lazing in luxury lodges; I will give it all a go. I am passionate about wildlife and conservation and come from a long line of biologists, researchers and botanists.

Africa Geographic