King Tut returns to NY for last leg of U.S. exhibit

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - More than 30 years after King Tut’s last visit to New York, the golden boy is back.

“Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” which opens Friday and runs to January 2, contains more than 130 rare artifacts, twice the number of treasures shown in the 1970s exhibit.

It includes items used for royal burial practices and daily life in ancient Egypt, King Tut’s viscera coffin, containers for the boy king’s mummified liver, his chariot and an exhibit explaining new DNA and medical techniques that may unlock more discoveries about the Pharaoh’s royal family and how they died.

“Maybe in one month, by the end of May, we will be able to announce the rest of the family of Tutankhamun,” Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Wednesday.

Hawass, a world-renowned archaeologist, announced new discoveries in February about Tut’s family tree and his cause of death. A new replica of King Tut’s mummy will also be on view in the exhibit.

The actual mummy recently underwent a CT scan as part of a five-year Egyptian study. The research revealed that damage to Tut’s skull occurred after his death, making past theories of murder unlikely.

Recent DNA tests also showed that the boy king suffered from malaria and may have died from complications from a broken leg.

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A generation ago, the last Tut exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art attracted 1.8 million visitors before closing in 1979, setting off a craze popularized by a hit song by comedian Steve Martin.

“Tut mania is back,” said Mark Lach, creative director of the exhibit at the Discovery Times Square Exposition.

During a press viewing Wednesday, Hawass revealed that he was not happy about new venue, calling it “too commercial.” He said he preferred to have the exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

John Norman, president of Arts & Exhibitions International, said New York was one of four cities considered for the Tut exhibit, and the Times Square location was picked in part due to economic, pragmatic and security concerns.

Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney