Curator’s Diary, Friday 1st October 2010: Tutankhamun in Madrid and Manchester

Tutankhamun tomb reconstruction

Last week I went to Madrid to see the Tutankhamun exhibition that is about to open in Manchester on the 22nd October at the Trafford Centre Museum of Museums (http://www.tutankhamunmanchester.com/). The exhibition tells the story of the discovery of the tomb, and contains complete reconstructions of the tomb chambers and contents as found by Howard Carter in 1922, based on the photographs taken by Harry Burton – available online at the Griffith Institute, Oxford, website: http://www.griffithinstituteprints.com/collection.php?collid=3039
It’s a strange experience to look at tomb rooms full of the objects (see photo) exactly as Howard Carter saw them. Equally interesting is that, despite the fact that the entire exhibition consists of replicas, the exhibition is a huge draw, such is the iconic status of Tutankhamun today.

Madrid is home to one of the temples rescued in the 1960s when the Aswan Dam was constructed which led to the creation of Lake Nasser, flooding large areas of the Nile Valley. The most famous temples moved at this time are the two at Abu Simbel. Smaller temples were given as gifts to countries that financially supported the UNESCO archaeological rescue project, including the Temple of Debob, now in a park in Madrid.

Temple of Debob, Madrid

Term has started at Manchester University and this week I have been seeing students about essay and dissertation topics on Ancient Egypt and planning teaching for the semester.  I am also catching up on enquiries that have come in over the last week while I was on leave, and collating the last sections of text for the Egypt in its African Context conference proceedings – the conference took place almost exactly a year ago at the Museum, and it is good to be able see the finishing post on the publication.

Next Tuesday I am giving a lecture to the Stafford Ancient Egypt Society on the 13th Dynasty Ramesseum tomb objects (medical and magical objects that may have belonged to a lector priest) and on Saturday I am talking to the Reading Ancient Egypt Society about Egypt as an African culture. After that, I leave for Egypt to lead a tour for Martin Randall Travel for two weeks – I’m looking forward to the sunshine and to seeing my excellent guide, Hisham.

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