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Tutankhamen-mania! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I visited the city of San Francisco last month to give a lecture on my discoveries or as the US press described it “my adventures in the world of antiquities.” The person responsible for organizing the lecture, Mrs. Jacquelyn, was waiting for me at the airport and as soon as I arrived I was eager to know how many people would be attending the lecture, but at the same time I was scared to ask this question. However Mrs. Jacquelyn told me that the lecture had sold out, and that it was taking place at the San Francisco Opera House, which is the largest hall in San Francisco and has a seating capacity of 2700. I was extremely happy because there is something special about lecturing to such a large audience, and it allows one to see the extent to which people love ancient Egyptian civilization.

San Francisco had the good fortune to host the Tutankhamen exhibition that travelled to America in 1970 and was scheduled to exhibit in four famous cities; Washington, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. However Walter Newman and his wife Ellen, the daughter of Mary Ann Magnin, the renowned San Francisco founder of the I. Magnin department store, visited Egypt at the same time that I was the Inspector of Antiquities at Giza. A colleague working at Stanford University in San Francisco told them to contact me, and they informed me that they were trying to get permission to arrange for the Tutankhamen exhibition to visit San Francisco. I introduced them to my good friend Fouad al-Oraibi, who was the head of Antiquities at the time, and they were able to get Egyptian government approval to display 55 rare pieces belonging to King Tut including his golden mask and his throne. Unfortunately, this exhibition did not generate any revenue for Egypt, and even the small amount of money from sales on the sidelines of the exhibition was donated to UNESCO.

This exhibition was visited by millions of Americans, and everybody who visited it remembers the long queues to obtain tickets for the exhibition.

The other significant news is that Tutankhamen returned to visit San Francisco and this exhibition remained in the city for three months until [the beginning of] until April [2010]. It is strange that the Tutankhamen exhibition was held in the De Young Museum, which hosted this exhibition previously.

Although this exhibition will not include rare pieces such as Tutankhamen’s Golden Mask or throne, Egypt will receive around 10 million dollars from San Francisco, and if we had allowed the Golden Mask to be exhibited this would have stood closer to 30 million dollars, however there is a law that prevents us from sending rare antiquities abroad.

I gave my lecture at the San Francisco Opera House, and thousands of people visited the Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition. The world is still talking about him today, especially after we discovered the mummy of his father Pharaoh Akhenaton, the mummy of his grandmother Tiye, and the mummy of his mother, whose name is yet to be discovered. Despite all of this, the audience were saddened when I told them that the boy king was sick for much of his life and that he died of a severe case of malaria.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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