Egypt moves last chariot of King Tut to new museum

A file photo of a chariot once owned by former Egyptian King Tutankhamun more than 3,300 years. (AFP /Timothy A. Clary)
Updated 05 May 2018
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Egypt moves last chariot of King Tut to new museum

  • The chariot was a major feature of the military museum for over 30 years
  • The nearly intact tomb of the 18th Dynasty king was discovered in 1922

CAIRO: Egypt moved the sixth and last chariot of famed pharaoh Tutankhamun on Saturday to the boy king’s vast collection of items in an under-construction museum near the pyramids in Giza.
The unique artifact, a major feature of the military museum for over 30 years, paraded through Cairo with a military police escort to its final resting place at the Grand Egyptian Museum, home to thousands of artifacts spanning different dynasties of ancient Egypt. King Tut’s items, including the six chariots, are to be put on display in halls covering 7,000 square meters of the museum.
The Antiquities Ministry has been gradually moving King Tut’s belongings to the new museum to undergo restoration before they are put on display. The transfer of King Tut’s belongings has become a particularly sensitive issue; In 2014 the beard attached to the ancient Egyptian monarch’s priceless golden mask was accidentally knocked off and hastily reattached with an epoxy glue compound, sparking uproar among archaeologists.
Saturday’s relocation of King Tut’s sixth chariot was preceded by the fourth International Tutankhamun Conference which was attended by a wide range of Egyptologists and archaeologists from the world over.
During the conference, Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani said that the first phase of the museum, including King Tut’s halls, will be completed by the end of this year but the date for the museum’s soft opening has yet to be decided. The museum currently hosts more than 43,200 artifacts of which over 4,500 belong to King Tut alone. The museum’s grand opening is planned for 2022.
Archaeologist Zahi Hawass told reporters that excavation work on the tomb of King Tut’s wife, Ankhesenamun, is currently underway and he expects it to bear fruit soon.
“Maybe soon a tomb will be revealed in the Valley of the Monkeys or the western Valley of the Kings,” he said.
The nearly intact tomb of King Tut, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile river in Luxor. For many, King Tut embodies ancient Egypt’s glory, because his tomb was packed with the glittering wealth of the rich 18th Dynasty, from 1569 to 1315 B.C. He became pharaoh at the age of 10 in 1333 B.C., but ruled for just nine years at a pivotal time in ancient Egypt’s history.


UAE gift helps French palace reopen ‘forgotten theater’

Updated 18 June 2019
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UAE gift helps French palace reopen ‘forgotten theater’

  • Now called the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Theatre, it is the latest example of the close relations between Paris and Abu Dhabi
  • The UAE capital already hosts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and President Emmanuel Macron in 2017

FONTAINEBLEAU: An exquisite 19th-century French theater outside Paris that fell into disuse for one and half centuries has been restored with the help of a €10 million donation from oil-rich Abu Dhabi.
The Napoleon III theater at Fontainebleau Palace south of Paris was built between 1853 and 1856 under the reign of the nephew of emperor Napoleon I.
It opened in 1857 but was used only a dozen times, which has helped preserve its gilded adornments, before being abandoned in 1870 after the fall of Napoleon III.
But during a state visit to France in 2007, Sheikh Khalifa, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates, was reportedly entranced by the abandoned theater and offered €10 million ($11.2 million) on the spot for its restoration.
After a project that has lasted 12 years the theater is now being reopened.
An official inauguration is expected soon, hosted by French Culture Minister Franck Riester and attended by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Now called the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Theatre, it is the latest example of the close relations between Paris and Abu Dhabi.
The UAE capital already hosts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, the first foreign institution to carry the name of the great Paris museum.
For all its ornate beauty, the theater has hardly ever been used for its orginal purpose, hosting only a dozen performances between 1857 and 1868, each attended by around 400 people.
“While it had been forgotten, the theater was in an almost perfect state,” said the head of the Fontainebleau Palace, Jean-Francois Hebert.
“Let us not waste this jewel, and show this extraordinary place of decorative arts,” he added.
According to the palace, the theater is “probably the last in Europe to have kept almost all its original machinery, lighting and decor.”
Having such a theater was the desire of Napoleon III’s wife Eugenie. But after the defeat, his capture in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and the declaration of France’s Third Republic, the theater fell into virtual oblivion.
Following the renovation, the theater will mainly be a place to visit and admire, rather than for regularly holding concerts.
“The aim is not to give the theater back to its first vocation” given its “very fragile structure,” said Hebert.
Short shows and recitals may be performed in exceptional cases, under the tightest security measures and fire regulations. But regular guided tours will allow visitors to discover the site, including the stage sets.
The restoration aimed to use as little new material as possible, with 80 percent of the original material preserved.
The opulent central chandelier — three meters high and 2.5 meters wide — has been restored to its original form.