Free Readers Ensemble  

Photo of Death Mask of King Tut in
Cairo.  This item will not leave Egypt.
© Oak Park Journal photos

The only remaining items of the seven wonders of the world, the Pyramids of Giza.  This shot is from a farming region of Giza.
© Oak Park Journal photo

at Chicago's Field Museum

review by Ed Vincent

The exhibit is breath taking and will help the Egyptians raise
tens of millions of dollars to help guard and preserve their
treasures of history.  It is a large show with all the items
clearly marked and easy to understand.  This show is not
a warehouse of items as are many museums in Egypt, but
an exhibit with items following a given theme and displayed
with wonderful lighting and drama.

I would recommend the audio tour, which is both informative
and convenient.  The finding of
Tutankhamun in 1922 was
in many people's lifetime and remembered by many from their
early studies of Egypt.  Today the region around the Valley of
the Kings has many tales of Howard Carter and the friends of
friends who helped carry equipment for excavation and photos.

This show is a lot more than just some artifacts made of gold,
it has wonderful history and art of time where beauty was a
much valued commodity, perhaps even more than today.

The Egyptian culture, that lasted many many years, with
some bumps in its history here and there, was still a society
where they  enjoyed life-they enjoyed  it so much that they
wished it to continue the same after life.  Many of the more
modern religions have the after life much better than the
current life,  the Egyptians just wanted more of the same.

I would suggest that you see the show as early as possible
and avoid the last minute rush.  This  is a  grand event.....

May 26, 2006 through January 1, 2007

For more than 3,000 years they lay unseen beneath the Egyptian sands:  gleaming treasures of gold and semi-precious jewels; statues and chests of breathtaking artistry; magical amulets and articles of ancient life; the mummified body of a young pharaoh.

The Tomb entrance to Pharoah Tut Ankh Amon (Tutankhamun)early in the morning in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt.
© Oak Park Journal photo

    When the British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered the remarkably preserved tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, he created a worldwide sensation.  When the boy king’s riches toured the world
in 1977, the term “blockbuster exhibition” was born.  Now a new exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,
offers visitors a chance to see fabulous new treasures and to enter the world that gives them meaning:  250 years that marked the pinnacle of ancient Egypt’s culture, wealth, and imperial power. 

    As those who saw the earlier exhibition can attest, coming face-to-face with the treasures of King Tut is an encounter not
soon forgotten.  Visitors to the new exhibition, twice the size of the original, will have an even broader and deeper experience.  They’ll see more than 130 ancient artifacts—of gold and silver, jewels and semi-precious stones, alabaster and gilded wood—excavated from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other royal tombs in the Valley of
the Kings.  They’ll learn about life and death in ancient Egypt, and the intimate relationship between the two.  And they’ll discover
what the latest technologies are revealing about how the young king may have died. 

    Tutankhamun has been organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International, and AEG Exhibitions in association with The Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt and The Field Museum.  The tour is sponsored by Northern Trust.  Its Chicago sponsor is Exelon, proud parent of ComEd.

    The Chicago exhibition is the third stop on a four city U.S. tour that includes Los Angeles, Ft. Lauderdale, and Philadelphia as well. Like the original 1977 exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs has generated widespread excitement and record attendance in each of the cities that have presented the exhibition
to date.

Treasures Unimagined and Untouched

Howard Carter had spent five years searching the Valley of the
Kings for the tomb of the storied Tutankhamun.  His funding was coming to an end, but he persuaded his patron, Lord Carnarvon, to support his work for one more season.  That was all it took.  A few days after digging began again, a young water-carrier put his hand
on a stone step.

Dr. James L. Phillips
Curator of the Near East and North
Africa at The Field Museum and Professor of Anthropology
the University of Illinois, Chicago with Dr. Zahi Hawas
© Oak Park Journal photo

    “It was a spectacular discovery—a tomb untouched since antiquity, its inner sanctum never looted by tomb robbers,” says James L. Phillips, Acting Curator of the Near East and North
Africa at The Field Museum and Professor of Anthropology at
the University of Illinois, Chicago.  The only tomb of its era found intact, it was also, Phillips notes, the first major discovery in the
age of easy worldwide communication.  That, along with rumors
of a mysterious curse, helped make Tut the most popular of the pharaohs.

    But there is no denying the allure of the treasure itself.  More
than 5,000 beautifully preserved artifacts were found in Tut’s
tomb, and the 50 selected for this exhibition—along with more
than 70 from other royal tombs—are among the most breathtaking objects of ancient Egypt.  Only a few of these were in the original exhibition, and many have never before traveled outside Egypt.

    Among the dazzling artifacts on display are a gold diadem, inlaid with semi-precious stones, that graced the boy king’s head in life
and death; a miniature gold coffin, in Tut’s image, that held his
inner organs; and a gold dagger, wrapped with his mummy to
protect him in the afterlife.  A wooden bust shows the king as a young and very human figure, while exquisite gilded statuettes portray him as the ruler of all Egypt.  A small shrine of wood covered in gold and silver is engraved with tender scenes of Tutankhamun and his young wife.  And most poignant of all
is a child-size throne of ebony and ivory inset with gold.

    Though less well known, the treasures from other royal tombs
are equally spectacular, especially those from the tomb of Yuya
and Tjuya, believed to be Tut’s great-grandparents.  Tjuya’s
coffin is a stunning sight, covered in a bright reddish gold inlaid
with colored glass that forms her broad collar.  Another fascinating
artifact comes from the tomb of Amenhotep II:  a model boat, shaped like the royal barge and painted a bluish green, the color
of life reborn.  In such a celestial boat the soul of the pharaoh
would travel the heavens with the sun god, dying each night and resurrected each morning with the rising sun.

   Behind the Treasures, the Story of a Mighty Civilization
Tutankhamun reveals ancient Egypt as a land of artistic and
spiritual richness as well as material wealth.  “Like the earlier exhibition, this one is filled with beautiful objects,” James Phillips says.  “But now we also have the context that gives those objects meaning—the history, religion, ideals, and daily life of the people
the objects were made for.”

    Tutankhamun tells the fascinating story of Egypt’s 18th dynasty, the golden age of the pharaohs.  It was the height of Egyptian culture, wealth, and power:  the empire extended from Libya to Gaza, from Syria to Sudan; art and literature flourished, and architecture and technology advanced.  But Tut was born into an
era of great cultural upheaval:  his father, Akhenaten, had replaced the worship of many gods with a radical new monotheistic religion, only to have it overturned by Tutankhamun’s advisors soon after
the old king’s death.

    Visitors will learn much about Tut’s family and his royal predecessors, and about the pervasive connections between
religious beliefs and daily life in ancient Egypt. 

    “Religion, and its emphasis on the afterlife, contoured every aspect of Egyptian society,” Phillips explains.  “Just think about where all these objects came from:  tombs.  Ancient Egyptians
spent their lives accumulating objects they would need to carry on
in the afterlife—furniture, jewelry, games, weapons, amulets, canopic jars to store the organs where the soul resides.  And of course, offerings for the gods.  You could say they lived to die.”

    It’s a fascinating story, and no one tells it better than The Field Museum and its staff of archaeologists and anthropologists.  Our
own long-standing exhibition, Inside Ancient Egypt, enhances the Tutankhamun exhibition with an immersion in the culture, including
a walk-through tomb complex, interactive Nile Valley, colorful marketplace, and 23 mummies.

X-rays and Scans of Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s mummified

© Oak Park Journal photo

The Mystery Remains

Tutankhamun’s early death has long been shrouded in mystery. 
He had ruled for about ten years, and was scarcely out of his teens when he died—unexpectedly, to judge by the relatively small and simple tomb in which his mummified body was buried.  X-rays
taken in 1968 suggested to some that he might have been killed
by a blow to the head.  But the exhibition offers a series of recent, more detailed CT scans that show no signs of trauma.  The
mystery remains.

    The CT video brings visitors closer to the mystery—and the science—through a “virtual autopsy” of Tut’s mummy.  (The mummy itself remains in the Valley of the Kings.)  They’ll also
see a newly commissioned bust, offering a life-like interpretation
of Tutankhamun based on the CT scan.  In a large display, “The Faces of Tut,” visitors can compare that version with photographs
of two other busts made from the scan, and with images drawn
from the art they’ve seen throughout the exhibition.

    The scanning of Tut’s mummy is part of a landmark, five-year Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by National Geographic, that will CT-scan the ancient mummies of Egypt. The portable CT scanner used was donated by Siemens
AG and National Geographic.

    “There have been a number of conflicting theories about what
Tut looked like,” says Senior Project Manager David Foster. 
“This will give visitors an opportunity to see first-hand how
scientific knowledge and interpretations develop over time.”

Additional Information on King Tut

A companion book, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, and children’s book, Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Boy King, both by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, are available in the Museum Store.  An audio tour narrated by Omar Sharif will be available for $6 for the general public, $5 for members, students, and children.  Additional information can be found on the King Tut web site:


Tickets to Tutankhamun are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and students with ID, $16 for children 4-11.  These prices include Museum admission.  Discounts are available for Chicago residents.  Visit or call (312) 922-9410 for details.  (Note:  A significant percentage of the visitor fees will go to underwrite projects to rescue Egypt’s crumbling monuments and
to conserve and display its great collection of antiquities.)

To purchase tickets, call 866-FIELD-03 (866-343-5303), visit, or come to the Museum’s box office.
Special rates are available for tour operators and groups of 15 or more.  Call our Group Sales office toll-free at 888-FIELD-85 (888-343-5385).

Hours and General Information

The Field Museum is open every day except Christmas Day from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open 8 a.m. May 26 through Labor Day).  Last tickets are sold at 4 p.m.  For general Museum information call
(312) 922-9410 or visit our interactive web site at 

Location and Travel Information

The Field Museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, on
CTA bus lines #6, #12, and #146, and close to the Metra electric
and South Shore lines.  An indoor parking garage is just steps from the main entrance.  For more travel information, call the Illinois Department of Transportation, (312) 368-4636, or the RTA Travel Center Hotline, (312) 836-7000.


    Want to receive the red carpet treatment during your visit to one of the world’s greatest kings? You can—by purchasing one of two new, limited edition Museum memberships designed to maximize visitors’ experience at Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

Both the Royal Tut membership and the Tut at Twilight membership ensure easier access to highly sought-after tickets to this extraordinary exhibition via telephone
or at the Museum’s box office. Membership perks for both include up to four tickets to see Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs for $10 each (regular price is $25 each!).  Tut at Twilight membership holders will also be given two free tickets (valued at $50 each) to one of 20 premium viewing events scheduled throughout the exhibition period.  These special evening events allow visitors to see the exquisite treasures of Tut’s tomb up-close and with lower exhibition capacities to offer a
better visitor experience.  Tut at Twilight tickets include a complimentary exhibition audio tour.

Both the Royal Tut membership and the Tut at Twilight membership offer visitors normal Museum membership privileges including free general museum admission, discounts at Museum events, stores and restaurants, a subscription to In the Field (the Museum’s members-only magazine), and travel opportunities with Museum researchers and curators. The Royal Tut membership costs $125 and the Tut at Twilight membership costs $250. These memberships will be available beginning December 13, 2005.  Memberships are good for one year from the date of purchase.  For more information, call the Membership Department at (312) 665-7700.  The Field Museum also offers King Tut corporate memberships. 
Call (312) 665-7120 for details.

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs opens at The Field Museum on May 26, 2006 and runs until January 1, 2007. The Field Museum is open daily, except for Christmas Day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (from 8 a.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day). The last admission is sold at 4 p.m. The Museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive. The Field Museum is accessible via CTA bus lines #6, #12 and #146, and by the El, Metra and South Shore lines. Indoor parking is conveniently located in the Soldier Field Parking Garage.

Don't Forget the other treasures at Field:

The Tyrannosaurus Rex, Sue, is always a popular display  for visitors to the museum-from any angle.
© Oak Park Journal photos

or call (312) 922-9410 for details.

To purchase tickets, call 866-FIELD-03 (866-343-5303), visit, or come to the Museum’s box office. Special rates are available for tour operators and groups of 15 or more. Call our Group Sales office toll-free at 888-FIELD-85 (888-343-5385).

Location and Travel Information

The Field Museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, on CTA bus
lines #6, #12, and #146, and close to other routes and the Metra electric
and South Shore lines. An indoor parking garage is located just steps from
the main entrance. For more travel information, call the Illinois Department of Transportation, (312) 368-4636, or the RTA Travel Center Hotline, (312) 836-7000.

© Oak Park Journal photo

© Oak Park Journal
published by Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc.

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