I booked some time off work in order to be able to travel the evening before, and booked the earliest slot for the exhibition, in the hope that the exhibition might be a little quieter at that time. (which also meant I ended up having a pleasant walk to the gallery in the morning )
I was very impressed with the exhibition - it is well thought out, with explanations of the ancient Egyptian's beliefs about death and the afterlife, including quotations from the book of the dead, and explanations of the significance of many of the items on display.
The artifacts were also very well displayed, with many in free-standing cases so you could see them from all angles, and with multiple copies of the labels which helped reduce congestion as people moved through. (something some other exhibitions I have visited recently could learn from!)
On to the exhibits themselves! In the first room, there were food containers, modelled in the shape of the food they had contained (apparently they have been able to analyse some of the contents, and found that things were not always correctly packed, so the wrong foods were stored in some containers!)
There was then lots of the Pharaoh's luggage - wooden boxes of various sizes and shapes , inlaid with ebony and ivory, and decorated with gold paint and Tutankhamun's cartouche, and this rather nice little calcite box (which held hair believed to be that of Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenamun, and a pomegranate, which may have symbolised their marriage contract)
|Painted Calcite Box|
There were other items - I liked a little pen case - made in the shape of a column, inlaid with ivory and coloured glass. It made me wonder - was it for the use of a scribe, or could the Pharaoh himself perhaps write?
Next, there were two model boats - one with a two-storey cabin painted with chequered patterns, and the other with a throne on board, there were gilded figures of Tutankhamun - one of them showed him on a skiff, with a harpoon - it was explained that he was hunting Hippo, but the hippo itself wasn't included, as it was believed that everything put, in model form, into the tomb would exist in reality in the afterlife, and hippopotami are too dangerous to risk including them!
|Horus with solar disk|
I loved this beautiful statue of a hawk / Horus, carrying the sun disk (and looking, I feel, a little disgruntled about it) It was part of the decorative fixtures for one of the chariots in the tomb.
|Lion head end to bow case|
There were two shields, one showing Tutankhamun as a Sphinx, crushing his enemies, and the other showing him hunting lions , and a beautiful bow-case, decorated with hunting scenes, and with two lovely lions heads on the ends.
There was furniture - a beautiful gilded bed (the woven base still almost intact, after 3,000 years). I was interested to read that the board was actually a foot-board, not a head board!
Another of the pieces of furniture on display was a child-sized chair. Tutankhamun was only nine when he became Pharaoh, and suitably sized furniture and other items (bows, sears etc) were made for him, and some of them were buried with him (he was around 19 when he died)
One of the most impressive exhibits, for me, was a life-sized, black and gold statue f the King as Guardian. It apparently symbolises his re-birth as night turns to dawn
It's stunning,and it looks as though it is a portrait of a real person, the face is very human, relateable. It's stunning.
This might look like the famous death-mask, but it isn't, it is a miniature version, a coffinette, to hold one of the King's internal organs. This one was, I think, for the liver, and there were apparently others.
It's about 12 inches tall, and is exquisite, with incredibly delicate decoration, and hieroglyphs engraved on the inside.
|Bust of Tutankhamun - stopper for Canopic jar|
Displayed with it was a bust of Tutankhamun, which I think was the stopper for a canopic jar. Like the statue, this seemed to be a real portrait of a real person (and did look a lot like the *same* person!
|'straps' and pectoral|
There was then a model of the inner sarcophagus, on which were displayed gold 'straps' and items such as gold-plates sandals, finger- and toe-stalls (basically, gold-plated false fingers and toes!) as well as golden hands holding the crook and flail.
|Pectoral in the shape of a vulture|
There were also lots of items of jewelry - pectorals n the shapes of vultures, hawks, scarabs and boats, as well as smaller items.
The exhibit also included information about the excavation and some of those involved.
|Alabaster 'Loving cup'|
There was an alabaster cup, then, finally,in the last room, a stone statue of the King, standing alone. It was originally one of two, and after his death, Tutankhamun's cartouche was removed and replaced with that of his successor
|Statue of Tutankhamun|
A projection on the rear wall explains that the ancient Egyptians believed that the dead would live on, as long as their names are remembered, and of course, Tutankhamun is now the best known of all the pharaohs.
It is a very good exhibition and I am glad that I got to see it. My Flickr album with more pictures is here.
Edited to add: The gallery now has a virtual tour available - https://youtu.be/WKxsDuqoqsk
The astute will have realised that I visited before we were all advised against travel, and the museums were closed, due to Covid-19. It was originally due to stay open in London until 3rd May, and then moving on to Boston and then Sydney. There are also more hotos on the Saatchi Gallery website.