for National Geographic News
The mummy of King Tutankhamun today went on public display for the first time—85 years to the day since his tomb was discovered in Egypt's famed Valley of the Kings.
Until now the boy pharaoh's remains had rested in his sarcophagus in the burial chamber of the tomb, which lies just north of the city of Luxor (see a map of Egypt).
But on Sunday morning the remains—settled inside a wooden box—were carefully transferred to a high-tech glass display case about 30 feet (9 meters) away in the tomb's antechamber. (See photos of the transfer.)
The valley was frenzied with TV camera crews, photographers, and journalists, who converged below the gravelly sun-drenched hills near the tomb.
The atmosphere seemed fit for a modern-day movie star, underscoring the enduring celebrity of a king who died more than 3,000 years ago. (See video of the transfer.)
The move will help preserve Tutankhamun's mummy, which experts say has been deteriorating rapidly because of exposure to heat and humidity.
(Read more about how the mummy was moved and the technology designed to preserve it.)
The new display is also expected to increase visits to the tomb from about 350 to 900 tourists a day, generating funds for the protection of Egyptian antiquities.
"I can say for the first time that the mummy is safe, the mummy is well preserved, and also at the same time, all the tourists who will enter this tomb tomorrow morning will be able to see the face of Tutankhamun for the first time," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence.
(National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)
Tutankhamun's mummy has been examined four times before, but Hawass estimates that until today only 60 people had actually seen the remains firsthand.
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