King Tut's swag heads Down Under

By Greg Ansley

CANBERRA - The Egyptian Museum's collection of treasures from the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun will fly from New York to Melbourne next year on its final stop before returning to Cairo.

With other artefacts from the Valley of the Kings, the exhibition has attracted more than 7 million visitors in Europe and the United States, and will not leave Egypt again.

"Australians will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the world's most precious treasures at the Melbourne Museum," Victorian Arts Minister Peter Bachelor said.

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs will open next April, and is expected to draw up to 700,000 people - almost as many as the museum's other blockbusters from Pompeii and the Titanic combined.

The museum had to join with the Victorian Major Events Company and entertainment group IMG to fund the A$10 million ($13.1 million) cost of staging the exhibition.

After Melbourne the exhibition will return permanently to the massive US$550 million (NZ$719.3 million) Grand Egyptian Museum, due to open near the Giza pyramids in 2012.

Tutankhamun ruled Egypt between 1333 and 1323 BC, ascending the throne at the age of 9, and returning Egypt to the worship of its traditional gods, ending the unpopular monotheistic religion imposed by his father, Akhenaten.

The exhibition will include a copy of his mummified body, and, from his tomb, a painted wood torso, a miniature of his coffin made to house his liver, a ceremonial dagger, and a life-sized granite statue.

The exhibits will include treasures from other tombs in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, where pharaohs and nobles were buried between the 16th and 11th centuries BC.

- NZ Herald

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