An underground recreation of King Tutankhamen’s tomb has opened in the Valley of the Kings. Located near the pharaoh’s original burial site, the tomb is hoped to revive Egypt’s sagging tourist industry.
The attraction recreates the pharaoh’s final resting place down to the last detail. Experts from Spain and Switzerland used 3D scanning technology taken from the original tomb to recreate the wall murals.
Located in the middle of the exhibit is a rectangular rock setting where King Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus and mummy would have rested. A corridor between the antechamber and burial chamber has photos explaining the 1922 discovery by British archaeologist Howard Carter.
Scanning King Tutankhamen’s tomb began in 2009. The replica was built in Madrid and completed in 2011. Civil unrest in Egypt delayed the transport and completion of the project until 2014.
Egyptian tourism officials unveiled the replica to 20 foreign dignitaries. The hope is that the exhibit will revive Egypt’s sagging tourist industry. After the unrest that brought about the fall of Hosni Mubarak and later Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian tourism has declined by 30 percent. Opening an underground recreation of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings is one way to revive the Egyptian tourist industry.
James Moran, ambassador of the European Union, participated in the opening of the new exhibit. He also wanted to send a message to the rest of the world that Egypt is a wonderful place to visit. With the new exhibit now opened, Egypt should be even more impressive.
The 18th Dynasty of the pharaoh’s tomb has been a major draw for tourists. Most of the artifacts and treasure recovered from the 1922 discovery reside in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.
The original tomb has suffered from too many tourists descending into it. Once inside, the moisture of their breath has damaged the original murals. Over time, the walls have expanded and contracted from changing temperatures. Flakes of paint over 3,300 years old have fallen off the walls. Constant steps from people walking inside the burial site have created fractures in the stone that allowed dust to enter.
Adam Lowe of the Factum Foundation said King Tutankhamen’s tomb was never meant to be entered after the pharaoh was placed there in 1323 BC. It was built so the king could rest there for eternity in private.
Mohammed Osman, the vice president of the Chamber of Tourist Companies, said the original tomb will remain opened to the public. The goal is to reduce the number of visits there and bring tourists to the new attraction. Tickets to enter the replica are 50 Egyptian pounds ($7), half the price for visiting the tomb. He hoped the presence of 20 foreign ambassadors at the opening ceremony will assure people that Egypt is a safe place to visit.
Similar exhibits for the tombs of Ramses the Great along with Pharaoh Seti I and Queen Nefertari will also be recreated with 3D imagery. These sites are currently closed to the public. With a replica of King Tutankhamen’s tomb opening to the public in the Valley of the Kings, current Egyptians hope to revive the economy with increased tourism.
By Brian T. Yates