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A Pharaoh in Florida

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Egypt's golden boy is back --- and he's wintering in the Sunshine State.

King Tut, dubbed "the original king of bling" on a flashy billboard beside Atlanta's Downtown Connector, is the star of the traveling exhibition "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs."

The exhibition swings into the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale on Thursday on the second stop of a 27-month tour of four U.S. cities. The show, which features treasures between 3,300 and 3,500 years old, drew 937,613 to the Los Angeles Museum of Art between June 16 and Nov. 15. Nearly a quarter of a million tickets have been pre-sold in Fort Lauderdale.

"No name in antiquity is shrouded in more mystery and, at the same time, is better known than King Tut," says Irvin Lippman, executive director of the Florida museum.

After closing April 23, the exhibition moves to Chicago's Field Museum May 26-Jan. 1, 2007, and to Philadelphia's Franklin Institute Feb. 3-Sept. 30, 2007. Los Angeles and Chicago also hosted "Treasures of Tutankhamun," seen by nearly 8 million visitors in seven cities from 1967 to 1979.

Fifty objects excavated from the boy king's burial chamber --- discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter --- will be displayed. They include the gold crown found on his head and one of the gold and precious-stone-inlaid canopic coffinettes that contained his mummified organs. Born in 1343 B.C., Tut became Pharaoh at age 9 or 10 and died mysteriously in 1323 B.C.

Also part of the exhibition are more than 70 objects from other royal tombs and other ancient sites of the 18th dynasty (1555 B.C.-1305 B.C.), including items belonging to Pharaohs Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV as well as Yuya and Tuyu, parents-in-law of Amenhotep II and great-grandparents of Tutankhamun.

In addition to the focus on Tutankhamun, the 11 galleries include insights into daily life in ancient Egypt; religion; death, burial and the afterlife; the discovery of the tomb; and daily life in the 18th dynasty.

National Geographic photographs and television footage complement the exhibit.

Tut fans who visited "Treasures" in the late 1970s will recognize many of the objects on display, but results of recent high-tech forensic investigations add a new dimension to the current exhibit.

CT scans of the mummified remains made this year shed new light on the life and death of the young Pharaoh. The final gallery is devoted to these images obtained as part of a five-year Egyptian conservation and research project partially funded by National Geographic.

Cutting-edge 3-D, CT scan imaging enabled investigators to produce a reconstruction of Tut's face and head to reveal what he looked like on the day he died.

Part of the proceeds from the tour will go toward the construction of an antiquities museum in Cairo and ongoing archaeological and preservation efforts in Egypt.

Greater Fort Lauderdale is embracing the exhibition in a big way with hotel packages and promotions. Even the annual Winterfest Boat Parade on Saturday goes Egyptian with the theme "Jewel of the Nile."

> Information: 1-877-888-8587,

Copyright 2005 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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