port of harlem magazine
Niani Gallery in Alexandria, VA
Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Treasures Opens in Washington, D.C

May 16 – May 29, 2024
Praising the Past

king tut tomb layout

"Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Treasures" opened in Washington, D.C., on May 2 at the Rhode Island Center. The Center is a former big box store shopping plaza transformed into an entertainment district in a fast-developing, high-density neighborhood. The neighborhood centers on the Road Island Metro station.

However, I drove to the Center to see a replica of King Tut's golden chariot and parked my metal car in the Center's new parking lot. I believe it's cheaper to use the Q.R. code in the Center rather than the ones on the outdoor poles to start the electronic payment process.
Given those experiences, I urge readers to read this article and some of the provided links before visiting the exhibit.
After the parking adventure and digesting how much the neighborhood and public parking have changed, I realized it has been over forty years since I began learning about Egypt. I concluded that I would whisk through the historically accurate recreation of King Tut's tomb and treasures in 40 minutes. I was wrong. I curiously spent two hours reading, looking at the exhibit, and listening to a scholarly tour via a handheld speaker.

King Tut's tomb gets special attention mainly because it was intact when modern man found it. Also, Tut became King when he was nine and was the last King in his family's lineage when he died at 18. Among the 1,000 perfectly reconstructed objects and artifacts, the most clarifying portion was a graphic layout of the tomb followed by life-size creations of each room and its contents.

As with any subject, there are many stories and angles to cover. As I walked through the padded, carpeted Center, echoes of Yosef A.A. ben-Jochannan speaking at Iowa State University circa 1980 rang in my ear. I could hear Dr. Ben, as followers often call him, connecting Egyptian beliefs with Christianity. That remembrance made it easier to digest some of the exhibit's information. It whetted my appetite to learn about the Book of the Divine Cow.

I also recalled POH subscriber Carol Bryant of Harlem talking about Abu Simbel as we descended toward the temple with Dr Ben in 1996. As we walked in the Egyptian desert, I was in awe at the sight of the holy temple and the first holy father-mother-son image, and she asked me, "Haven't you ever read about Abu Simbel?" No was my sad answer; I did not know there was more to read.

Given those experiences, I urge readers to read this article and some of the provided links before visiting the exhibit. The exhibit is enlightening but provocative to those unwilling to explore new thoughts or the basis of much we know today.


Three current Port Of Harlem subscribers will each win a pair of tickets to experience “Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Treasures.”
Just mentioning the word "west" has more meaning after experiencing Tony Browder's Egypt on the Potomac Field trip,  where Browder explains that urban designer Pierre Charles L'Enfant modeled Washington, D.C., after Egypt.  The results, for instance, is that since the Egyptians believed life, like the sun, rose in the east and died in the west, the Arlington National Cemetery is west of the Potomac, just like the Valley of the Kings is west of the Nile, where Egyptians buried King Tut.

Famed photographer Chester Higgins told his Egyptian story similarly but focused more on spirituality. "Our sacred agency does not come from Whiteness; it comes from Blackness," he says. The knowledge that he shares does not separate him from scholars such as Dr. Ben or Browder; it's the photographs, along with the text, in his book Sacred Nile—with Photographer Chester Higgins.

Having learned even more during the two hours at the D.C. exhibit, I am ready to ask Egyptologists, archeologists, and professor Melinda Hartwig, a consultant for "Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures," several questions, questions beyond the five intriguing parallels between King Tut's life and modern politics, she is ready to discuss.

We will post this story and the podcast on Facebook about a week after subscribers receive this in their email boxes. We look forward to your comments.

While this hands-on experience mirrors Egyptologist Howard Carter's 1922 "discovery" of the tomb, many in the African-centered world will find some terms in the exhibit Eurocentric and fail to challenge or address White supremacist myths.

The opening clip, for instance, painted Carter as a gifted White savior who "discovers," not find, the tomb the locals are scared to open because they saw a serpent had killed a bird, which they viewed as an omen.  So the brave White man and his wonderful White "Lady "Evelyn, daughter of Carter's benefactor, Earl of Carnarvon, proceeds to become the first to view Tut's tomb in centuries. I expected Tarzan and Jane to show up during the showing as a bonus act.

Exhibition Hub and Semmel Exhibitions and Fever's exhibition do not address racial classifications and colorism. Still, it was necessary to classify the Nubians as "dark-skinned" versus "darker-skinned." Darker skinned, at least, would have acknowledged the dark skin, in writing, of the Egyptians. 

They also referred to the manifestations of God by their Greek instead of Egyptian names. Instead of Aset, they called the holy mother Isis. I was livid when they called the "Book of Coming Forth by Day" the "Book of the Dead." Reportedly, White researchers gave it the later name not based on what they knew but simply because they saw the book in the coffin or burial chamber of deceased Egyptians.

I cannot tell you how this exhibition ranks in my mind among the Egyptian Museum Berlin, The Field Museum in Chicago, or any other forays into Egyptian history I have made. However, with "Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures" being a short car or subway ride away, I am definitely glad I did not miss it.

POH Podcasts - Coming Next Week

Melinda Hartwig, Egyptologists, archeologists, professor, and consultant for "Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures."

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Three current Port Of Harlem subscribers will each win a pair of tickets to experience “Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Treasures.”

To enter the free drawing, click here.

We will randomly select three winners Monday, May 20, noon, and send the winner an email. 

The winner must respond by Tuesday, May 21, noon, or we will select another winner. Please include a good contact telephone number for quick processing.

Good Luck,

P.S. Please invite a friend to subscribe.

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