| Courtesy of Egypt Tourism Ministry
CAIRO (youregypt.com) - The most important exhibition of ancient
Egyptian artefacts to be seen in Europe for over 20 years has
opened in Basel.
“Tutankhamun – the Golden Beyond” has over
50 pieces from the tomb of the mysterious boy pharaoh, as well
as a further 70 items, many of which have never been seen before
The exhibition is the result of long years of negotiation by
the curators of Basel’s Museum of Antiquities, who
had to persuade the Egyptian authorities to overrule a parliamentary
vote forbidding the loan of Tutankhamen’s tomb relics
to other countries.
The Boy King Tutankhamon
The last time an exhibition of this magnitude was seen in
Europe was in Berlin in 1980. But that exhibition, and the
famous London show of 1972, focused almost entirely on the
mystery of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen himself.
The Basel exhibition takes a broader view. As well as over
50 relics from Tutankhamen’s tomb, there are pieces from
other royal tombs, and the tombs of high-ranking members of
“We wanted to show Tutankhamen in a wider context,” explained
chief curator André Wiese. “So we have included
other tomb relics from the period 14th to 15th centuries BC.
The exhibition is indeed a stunning illustration of the effort
and artistic skill that went into preparing the luxurious tombs,
whose contents were designed to speed the dead into the afterlife.
As well as relics from Tutankhamen, there is an ornately carved
chair belonging to Princess Satamun, a graceful wooden unguent
spoon, and even a painted leather collar once worn by a royal
A gold-gilded cartouche bearing
the king's name among the exhibition
Despite Tutankhamen’s reputation as having the most luxurious
tomb of all, many of its contents were not in fact originally
designed for him.
The young pharaoh died mysteriously at the age of only 17;
preparations for his tomb had scarcely begun, so many of his
funeral items were in fact hastily borrowed from older members
of the royal family who were still alive.
The exhibition, which will last six months, is expected to
attract at least half a million visitors.
And contrary to rumours in the press, there is no shortage
of tickets. However, visitors will be expected to state not
only a day, but also a specific time at which they intend to
come to the museum.
Egypt has received SFr5 million ($3.86 million) for loaning
the exhibits – the money will go towards building a new
museum in Cairo. And the pieces have been insured for around
One aspect of ancient Egypt which the exhibition does not address is the legendary
curse of the pharaohs, which apparently dooms all those who dare to disturb
But Zahi Hawass, who has excavated many tombs himself, had
a light-hearted answer to that question.
“On the entrance to one tomb I excavated, there was
a carving which said ‘anyone who disturbs my tomb will
be eaten by a crocodile, a hippo, and a lion’,” he
In fact Egypt is hoping that the exhibition in Basel will
bring not only money for the much needed museum construction,
but increased numbers of tourists to Egypt itself. And chief
curator André Wiese is so delighted by the very fact
of staging the exhibition at all, that he has little time to
think about curses.