The Golden Mask (aka The Gold Death Mask) featured above is an exact replica of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s features, represented in beaten gold inlaid with semi-precious stones. (The life size replica stands 21″ high x 15″ wide at the shoulders, and weighs 24 lbs) – as seen at the ‘Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs Exhibition’, Melbourne Museum, April, 2011.
The mask’s inlays cover almost the entire surface. The stripes of the nemes headdress and the beard contain coloured glass in imitation lapis lazuli. The eyebrows and inlaid parts around the eye are made of real lapis lazuli. The whites of the eye consist of quartz and the areas of the iris and pupil are obsidian. The collar includes sections of coloured glass, turquoise, quartz and other semi-precious stones.
- Tutankhamun was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1332 BC – 1323 BC), who reigned during the Egyptian New Kingdom. He died at the age of almost 18 years.
The modern world became aware of Tutankhamun on 4th November 1922, when his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Its discovery and contents sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s burial mask remains a popular symbol.
Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world ever since and have become some of the most traveled artifacts in the world. The longest running world-wide exhibition tour was ‘The Treasures of Tutankhamun’, which ran from 1972-1979. This exhibition was first shown in London at the British Museum from 30 March-30 September 1972, where more than 1.6 million visitors saw the exhibition; with some queuing for up to eight hours. It became the British Museum’s most popular exhibition in its history.
- The exhibition moved on to many other countries, including the USA, Japan, France, Canada, and West Germany, to name but a few.
- In April 2011 the exhibition visited Australia for the first time, opening at the Melbourne Museum in April for its only Australian stop before Egypt’s treasures returned to Cairo in December, 2011.
- The exhibitions did not include the gold mask that was a feature of the 1972–1979 tours, as the Egyptian government determined that the mask is too fragile to withstand travel and will never again leave Egypt.