We wandered into the burial chamber. As I leaned closer to stare at the inlaid stone and intricate hieroglyphics on the golden coffinette, awestruck by the craftmanship, my son whispered in my ear, “Mom, King Tut’s stomach was in there.”
Beside me, my five year old screwed up her eyes in concentration as she punched the numbers of the exhibit into her audio speaker before holding it to her ear, and my oldest daughter scanned the hierogyphics for birds and circled the sarcophagus of a royal cat. Even my husband, who claims to intensely dislike archeology, happily wandered from room to room reading about the pharaohs.
When I was nine, I saw the King Tut exhibit in San Francisco, stared into the eyes of the famous gold mask and fell in love. Egyptian art and artifacts are like Vincent Van Gough’s paintings. You don’t really understand what all the excitement is about until you stand in front of them. Some of the things I expected to be life-sized were diminutive, and it was shocking to see the large scale of some of the artifacts.
To my eyes, Egyptian art contains some of the most beautiful faces and figures, both animal and human, that I’ve ever seen. Even the shadows cast on the walls behind the statues are graceful and life-like.
Oh, and Harrison Ford narrates the audio tour as you walk through the tomb. Genius.
But this is a science blog, and I should talk about science. The final room of the exhibit is full of mummy science and contains a fascinating replica of King Tut’s mummy, X-rays and scans of the real mummy and some facts about DNA analysis they’ve done that has helped clarify the lineage of the great pharaohs. The Omnitheater film “Mummies, Secrets of the Pharaohs” is extremely interesting too and perfect for anyone that wants to know more about mummification, how they get DNA from mummies and what they hope to do with the information science reveals about the pharaohs.
The kids and I mummified apples last week to get a little insight into the science of mummification. I’ll post directions on how you can mummify your own apples tomorrow and demonstrate how to do it on Kare11 Monday morning, Feb.21st (President’s Day.)
Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs is at the Science Museum of Minnesota now. Don’t miss it!