Pharaoh's tomb to be mummy of all shows
AN exact replica of an Egyptian burial chamber is to form the centrepiece of a major new exhibition in Edinburgh.
The tomb of Pharaoh Thutmosis III, known as the Napoleon of ancient Egypt, is to be built in the City Arts Centre.
More than 60,000 visitors are expected to flock to the exclusive UK exhibition when it opens in October.
And organisers admitted final visitor numbers could be far higher, given the enduring appeal of ancient Egypt.
The replica of the burial chamber, the original of which was discovered in 1898 halfway up a cliff-face in the Valley of the Kings, comes from a detailed laser copy made by Madrid-based company Factum Arte.
The walls of the chamber contain a complete depiction of the Amduat, the oldest Egyptian book of the netherworld which chronicles the pharaoh's 12-hour journey to the afterlife.
A version of it was included in The Quest for Immortality exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington last year, where it was regarded as the highlight of the show.
The Edinburgh exhibition, entitled Immortal Pharaoh: The Tomb of Thutmosis III, was due to be announced by the council this morning.
It will also feature priceless artefacts from the Museum of Antiquities in Basel in Switzerland and the Kestener Museum in Hanover.
These will cover the entire span of ancient Egyptian history and will illustrate the themes of the Amduat, as well as the rituals around burial, mummification and the ancient Egyptians' belief in resurrection.
There will also be a 30-minute film featuring Dr Eric Hornung, professor emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Basel.
The film shows Dr Hornung in the actual tomb of Thutmosis III and takes viewers through each hour of the sun god's journey, also described in the Amduat. A version of the exhibition was held in the Museo Archeologico Nacional in Madrid last year, and attracted 93,253 visitors in just nine weeks.
It is the first major exhibit on ancient Egypt since the city hosted the Gold of The Pharaohs in 1988.
That was a spectacular success, attracting 447,560 visitors, and it is still the City Arts Centre's most popular exhibition.
This new exhibition is smaller in scale however, which is why the council expects to attract around 60,000.
The exhibition was offered to the city to replace the Greatest Fairy Tale: The Amazing Life of Hans Christian Andersen, which was scheduled to run at the City Arts Centre in October.
Its showing at Rosenbourg Castle in Copenhagen has been delayed and the exhibition is now expected to arrive in Edinburgh in January.
Herbert Coutts, the council's director of culture and leisure, said: "Ancient Egypt has an enduring appeal and the exhibition will be one of the major events of winter 2005-6.
"There has long been great interest in the history of ancient Egypt among the general public and it is anticipated the Immortal Pharaoh: The Tomb of Thutmosis III will prove to be a successful cultural and tourism event.
"The showing at the City Arts Centre, which is a UK exclusive, emphasises Edinburgh's role at the cutting edge of cultural tourism."
ONE of the great pharaohs of ancient Egypt, Thutmosis III ruled during the 18th dynasty, from 1479 to 1426 BC.
He belongs to the country's most glorious era and was particularly noted for laying the foundation of Egypt's African and Asian empire.
He succeeded his step-mother and aunt, Hatshepsut, who had ruled as regent when Thutmosis II died.
Thutmosis III abandoned her peaceful policies and his battles were recorded in great detail by his royal scribe and army commander, Thanuny.
The pharaoh was also noted for his building programme, which surpassed those of previous rulers and saw monuments erected across Egypt and Nubia.
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