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Sign outside de Young Museum advertising the King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs Exhibit

Sign outside de Young Museum advertising the King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs Exhibit

Recently my eldest daughters charter school embarked on a field trip to the de Young Art Museum to view the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit. Having at various points in my life had an interest in ancient Egypt, I was looking forward to viewing some of the best known artifacts from that time period. It has been thirty years since the last time the exhibit came to San Francisco and though Tutankhamun’s death mask was no longer traveling outside of Egypt, this show promised to be bigger than the last time around. I missed the first one, partly because I was only five at the time and we lived in Oregon, no where near San Francisco.

The last time that I really had an interest in ancient Egypt, was when I read an article about ancient Egypt in National Geographic and in the article they mentioned Queen Hatshepsut. Later … about six weeks after reading the article I was visited by a spirit who claimed to be a mummy, a female at that. When she visited I felt like a tooth had been removed from my jaw. Later the same week that she had stopped by, I found an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the discovery of a box bearing Queen Hatshepsut’s cartouche and how Queen Hatshepsut’s mummy was positively identified through the locating of a tooth that was in a box bearing her cartouche. The tooth fit a hole in the jaw of a mummy that was found in one of the tombs and led researchers to believe that the mummy in question was not a “wet” nurse, but rather a queen, Queen Hatshepsut.

de Young Museum

de Young Museum

Now with the opportunity to view some of the artifacts found within the tombs which were over 3,000 years old, I felt much anticipation. The morning of our trip we left for San Francisco much earlier than we normally would. Traffic due to the new “S” section of the Bay Bridge being installed recently was backed up nearly twice as far as normal. Fortunately we were able to use the carpool lanes and we sped by a several mile long parking lot.

After crossing into San Francisco we drove up Fell St. and entered Golden Gate Park. We drove over to the de Young Museum and after dropping off the family at the entrance, I continued on to John F. Kennedy drive and located on street parking. As I was walking towards the de Young Museum I saw glass on the curb where several vehicles in a row had been vandalized and most likely robbed. For a second I worried about returning to our vehicle to find our windows bashed out, then realized that the threat, for the time being … was gone.

The morning was foggy and somewhat cool, yet short sleeves were in order. We met up with our field trip group and picked up our tickets at 10:00 AM. Now we had our tickets which were for the 12:00 viewing time. As we were in the city and at the de Young Museum with two hours to kill until we could cue up for the Tut Exhibit, there was only one thing to do, view the other exhibits.

de Young Museum art

de Young Museum art

Our tickets granted us entrance into the other exhibits and we began on the upper floors where we found paintings, African art, head hunter trophies, yes real human skulls, creepy but not as scary as one would think. There were several interesting exhibits and I really enjoyed some of the glass art on the first floor as well as a model cathedral made from guns and bullets.

Cathedral made from guns and bullets

Cathedral made from guns and bullets

We cued up for the Tut Exhibit and regrettably noticed that though we had been allowed to take photos though out the rest of the museum, that this exhibit was off limits to photography, in fact we could not even sketch a 90 second image of any of the artifacts if we wanted to, it was off limits. As we lined up we bumped into other groups of individuals who were either here on their own or with a tour group. It was a very jovial and friendly atmosphere in the cue and behind us on a flat screen TV on the wall was a video playing footage of King Tut’s mummy. They showed several different views and discussed images found in x-rays and CAT scans of the mummy.

Close-up of cathedral made of bullets and guns.

Close-up of cathedral made of bullets and guns.

Up until this point I had not picked up much on a psychic level regarding our reason for being here. Once we were cued up downstairs where the video showing Tut’s mummy was playing, things began to shift for me. Earlier I had told Heidi, (my wife) that I was concerned that the spirits of the dead who were interned in the tombs that these artifacts came from may not be too happy about being “disturbed”. I really did not know what to expect and while waiting in line I felt several spirits hanging around but did not pursue it further as they seemed to be waiting until the right moment to connect with me.

Then it was time to enter the exhibit … well kind of, we entered a darkened room where another video was played for us. In front of us and below the flat screen TV on the wall was a set of double wooden doors. They had “mood” lighting with “black” lights on the ceiling and little “torch” lighting on the walls. As the crowd entered the room and everyone became quiet, a docent informed us to turn off our cell phones and reminded us that we could not take photos or sketch anything. The lights were dimmed and the video played. It was about Howard Carters discovery of the undisturbed tomb of King Tut.

As I stood there in the near dark … so close to all of the artifacts that had sat in a tomb for over 3,000 years it began. I felt a rush of energy and a jolt went through me. I picked up on a tremendous amount of angst in connection with the exhibition. It seemed that the spirit I was connected to was jealous with King Tut and that he was unhappy with him. The spirit felt that King Tut was not deserving of all of the attention and adoration he was receiving. He felt as though he was being shortchanged and that King Tut had not earned his present fame and that people should be honoring him and not Tut. Who could this spirit be? It was none other than King Tut’s father, Amenhotep.

Amenhotep had changed the way that ancient Egyptians worshiped. He attempted to make it so that Amun, the sun god, was the most important of all gods. He moved the capitol city of Egypt to reflect the religious changes that he had made. Then he made other change, he decided that Amun was not important and that Aten was the only true god. He then changed his name from Amenhotep to Akhenaten to reflect the changes in religion. By moving the capitol of Egypt, he disrupted the trade routes and that caused economic chaos. Overall Akhenaten was not very well liked, in fact there are several reasons why he could be upset with his son who would become King Tut.

After the death of Akhenaten, his son who was only nine years old at the time became king. After Tutankhamun became king, he set about undoing all the work that his father had done. He re-established the old religions with the multiple gods, he restored the capitol city to it’s original location and made made every effort to erase the record of his father from the land. Akhenaten was so disliked that he was not given a “proper” burial and much of the gold and goods that had been set aside for him was never buried with him.

When King Tutankhamun died at age eighteen, it was unexpected and sudden. His arrangements for the afterlife had not yet been readied properly. His passing also left a power vacuum at the helm of Egypt which was a problem unto itself. Since King Tut had no sons, there was no heir apparent to the thrown. His wife asked the ruler of a neighboring land whom they were at war with to offer her a son in marriage and that would serve to build an alliance between the two warring countries, the foreign ruler however was not interested in her offer.

There were two other individuals who had a shot at the crown, one was the leader of the armies, he was of course away … leading the armies into battle. That left one adviser back at home with a fretful Queen who was reaching out to their enemy for help. This story has all the trappings of a soap opera… So, from what I understand, King Tut was not mummified properly.

When King Tut’s mummy was examined, it was discovered that it had an unusually high amount of decay for a mummy from the 18th Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. Though well wrapped, the preservation of the body itself appeared to be rushed. There was also an unusually large cut to the abdomen which was not traditional. The bones of the mummy have been damaged postmortem with rough handling yet is can be noted that he had injured a leg. This is supported by the number of walking sticks he had in his collection as well as from some images showing him with a staff.

I believe that King Tut was injured while on a hunting excursion and that he had an infection set in which killed him, I kept getting a sense of gangrene with high fever and blood poisoning. This would perhaps have killed him fairly quickly and would have resulted in his body already “going bad” before embalming had started, especially if they were a distance from a location where proper embalming could take place when he died.

Regardless, the possible successor to the thrown who was at home, had a short window to bury him and to take on the role of king himself. He had to bury him before the leader of the military came back since he had a bit more of a claim to the title than himself. Whatever the reasons, it is clear upon examining many of the artifacts that were buried with King Tut, that they were never intended for him. It seems that much of the gold and artifacts were actually intended for his father, while others were obviously made for King Tut. Essentially King Tuts successor attempted to remove nearly all references to King Tut and his father … in part to close that chapter of history and to secure his own claim to the thrown.

Pharaohs who followed Tutankhamun did not even bother to record or list his fathers time on the thrown. Tuts father was so despised that it was not until some of his artifacts came to light thousands of years after his death, that historians and archeologists even became aware of his existence. So … as I was walking through the exhibit I could feel Akhenaten’s anger and jealously. Even after all these years, he was still unhappy about how everything went down. And now to add insult to injury, his son who destroyed everything that he had worked for, was the one being honored, along with many of the artifacts that were originally intended for him … ouch.

Back to the exhibit, as I went through the exhibit I was struck by how little respect there was for the deceased. Granted, they no longer need the body or the artifacts, but … they were buried in good faith, and then had their graves plundered. There eviscerated bodies are unwrapped, photographed, filmed and subject to various x-rays and CAT scans with the results being displayed for all to see. (Their medical records are not private.)

During the pharaohs lifetime, their own people viewed them as vibrant flesh and blood humans with “god like” qualities. They were honored and respected, granted there were grave robbers though out the centuries, but at least they did not “pimp out” the remains as we have done. Now the pharaohs are being viewed by a whole new generation of people and when we envision them in our minds, we frequently flash on the images of their mummies and not what they looked like in flesh and blood. When we think of someone, we send them energy, and when we think of them as a dried out husk of a human body … like a mummy, they in turn see that as being who they are to us. This is not pleasant, think of all the money we spend on wrinkle cream alone in this day and age to stave off the effects of age upon our delicate skin. Now imagine everyone remembering you as a mummy … get the picture.

In my humble opinion, if we had to disturb them, the least we could have done, is not paraded around their eviscerated bodies and put them on display to the public. Imagine if after three years she passed, I went and dug up your grandmother. Then took the keepsakes you interned with her and set up a traveling display where I charged the public to view her remains … or even just photos of her remains as well as displaying all the objects you had put into her coffin with her. I am sure that I would be arrested for something and that most would be repulsed. However … add a few thousand years and, what! now it’s okay? Where do you draw the line? 10 years, 25, 100, 400? you get the idea. Remember that time is a physical construct and does not apply as we know it to those who have passed. So the mummies are not happy about being disturbed.

Wondering the exhibit I came to a stop in front of a gold gilded coffin. This coffin belonged to a female who came prior to King Tut. As my youngest daughter and I gazed at it, it suddenly came to me. I began to feel and see as well as smell another time and place. I could hear workers toiling away and suddenly it dawned on me, the craftsmen who had created these wonderful works of art were proud of their work. Over three thousand years ago when the tombs were sealed, they felt sorrow that their works of art and expert craftsmanship would be forever lost to the world, yet here they were on display. I think that when it comes right down to it, they got the best end of the deal, no old soap operas brought to light and rehashed. No images of them as mummies and though they may have lived in relative obscurity and continue to do so, there is a special calm and charm to that as well. In the end, the common man has prevailed.

In my opinion, it would be best to return the mummies to their tombs, as has been done with many of them and they should be resealed with a guard presence maintained to dissuade looters and vandals. The artifacts … well “Pandoras Box” has been open, so you are not going to be able to remove them entirely from public view … but at the very least they could be kept in Egypt on display so as to increase tourism and to restore some of Egyptian peoples treasures to their rightful place, Egypt. But, since it is on tour and here in San Francisco through March 20th of 2010 at the de Young Museum, you might as well go, but don’t expect to see King Tut’s death mask, coffins, sarcophagus or mummy.

Click here to learn more about Charles Peden psychic medium and animal communicator.

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