King Tut's chariot on view at NY exhibition

Tue Aug 3, 2010 3:18pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A royal chariot thought to have been used by Egypt's boy king, Tutankhamun, who died in around 1324 B.C. was unveiled in New York on Tuesday -- the first time it has been seen outside of Egypt.

The chariot was one of several found by archeologist Howard Carter when he discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922. Simpler and lighter than the others, and with extremely worn tires, experts believe it may have been used by the king for traveling or hunting expeditions.

"It was buried with him so he might use it in the afterlife," said curator David Silverman. "It's safe to say it's traveled further after his death."

The chariot will be part of "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," exhibition which contains more than 130 rare artifacts that will be on display until January 2.

Dr Zahi Hawass, a world-renowned archaeologist and Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, described the chariot as unique and of great significance from the boy king's life.

"As we discover more about Tutankhamun's death, we may find that this very chariot is an important piece of the puzzle that we've been working for decades to solve," he said in a statement.

Hawass and his medical team announced in February new discoveries about the family tree of the golden boy of ancient Egypt and his cause of death.

They described how recent scans and DNA tests suggest King Tut may have died at age 19 from complications resulting from a bone fracture in his left leg. An accident, such as a fall from the chariot, may explain the fracture that resulted in the king's death.

The exhibition, which opened in April at the Discovery Times Square Exposition, also includes items used for royal burial practices and daily life in ancient Egypt, King Tut's viscera coffin and containers for the boy king's mummified liver. A new replica of King Tut's mummy is also on view.

More than 30 years 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.