Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs by Zahi Hawass

We have tickets to see King Tut at the Field Museum in Chicago in August. It seems like a long time from now until then, but my library already has the companion book to the exhibit, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs by Zahi Hawass with photographs by National Geographic's Kenneth Garrett. It is a gorgeous book filled with essays and descriptions of artifacts in the exhibition. It looks like the show will deserve its blockbuster billing. I hope I will be able to see through the crowd.

When I attend big art or archeology exhibits, I tend to read every sign in the front rooms but eventually I tire and begin to skip some. Having now read this book, I will concentrate on the artifacts themselves - just look and admire. I am already prepped with the vocabulary. If you too are planning to attend, here are some words to study:


The reason that there is so much to see is the ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife that would be greatly enhanced by stocking up on necessities before death. The chambers of the tombs were stuffed with food, jewelry, clothes, furniture, weapons, chariots, and figurines of the many servants the pharaohs would need in the afterlife. When the pharaohs died (or other prominent people), all of their provisions were moved into their tombs. In fact, preparations began many years before death, and some artifacts even seem to name the subjects who gave the items to their pharaohs. I can almost imagine a pharaoh preparing for the great day registering his funerary needs at the local department store: one royal flail, one royal crook, four canopic jars, three nesting coffins, dozens of golden rings, folding stools, and unlimited shabti. Wrap in linen and deliver to the Valley of the Kings.

I could list all my favorite pieces in the book, but you have read enough of this review already. Get the book.

Hawass, Zahi. Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2005. ISBN 0792238737

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