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King Tut and China's first emperor go head to head

Egypt's boy king takes on China's first emperor in a contest to see who'll rule Atlanta's historical art scene. It may be a mismatch to compare the lavish touring Tutankhamun show, on view at the Atlanta Civic Center until May 25, with the High Museum's smaller-scale but still impressive The First Emperor (through April 19). Nevertheless, King Tut and Qin Shihuangdi both established opulent tombs so they could live large in the afterlife. With joint tickets available, the two exhibits will deservedly raise the city's cultural profile, as long as you can see past the unfortunate term "Tutlanta."

Full title of show

Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs

The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army

Length of reign

1333--1324 B.C., although the exhibit includes pieces from pharaohs spanning 2600-600 B.C.

221-210 B.C., but that just includes unified China; he ruled China's Qin state starting in 247 B.C.

Discovery of tomb

In 1922 by archeologist Howard Carter, who probably never let his colleagues hear the end of it

In 1974 by local farmers, who were probably pretty surprised to discover an underground chamber full of heavily armed terracotta soldiers

Number of pieces in exhibit

More than 130 artifacts, with 50 from Tut's tomb and 70 from other pharaohs

100 works, including 15 terracotta figures, most which are life-size

Facts for your friends

Tut became Pharaoh when he was 9-10 years old and married his half-sister when he was 12, suggesting how much Egypt's 18th dynasty was like "Dynasty," the night-time soap opera.

Hundreds of thousands of laborers spent more than 30 years building a tomb complex that features 600 pits and spans 23 square miles – that we know of.

Net effect of artifacts

In a word, bling. Especially in the tomb section, where the preponderance of precious metals and jewelry suggests how much the Egyptians went for conspicuous consumption. You can't help but wonder how much you could get for the pieces on the street.

Practicality. The presence of building materials, coins, and standardized weights and measures emphasizes functionality. You suspect that Qin got a lot done in a day.

Learning tool

Neat-o CT scan imagery shows what mummies look like under their wrappers and offers clues to Tut's death.

Contemporary sculpture shows workers going through the arduous steps of creating a terracotta warrior and horse.

Pet carrier

Limestone sarcophagus, probably for a cat, that resembles a cement dog house

An animal coffin for precious pets, probably birds

Humanizing touch

Stone toilet seat, because even a pharaoh can't have the servants go to the bathroom for him.

Bronze coins, reminding you that, no matter who was unifying the continent, someone had to pay for all this.

Kid appeal

Girls will probably coo over the golden collars. Boys will probably "Ew!" over the details about the Egyptian royal's weird elongated skulls.

Boys will probably covet the lances, cross-bows and other weapons. Girls will probably prefer the half-scale reproduction of the horse-drawn chariots. They look like ponies!

Can I have one?

Four gorgeous, miniature canopic coffinettes contained Tut's various internal organs and would be perfect for Barbie-as-Tomb Raider play

Limestone armor made of countless, exquisitely detailed pieces linked together, which would really impress them at Medieval Times.

Foot factor

The dignified statue of Queen Nofret features feet that seem disproportionately big, like she had "man feet."

Pressed circles and the detailed soles of the archer's footwear convey the artist's perfectionism.

Implied attitude toward the afterlife

"Who's to say that I won't need my gold finger and toe protectors even after I'm dead?"

"It's good to have several thousand soldiers and other servants, because they can have each other to talk to if they get bored."

Biggest sign of American pop fame

Steve Martin's 1978 novelty song "King Tut"

The 2008 film The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, although the vogue for mummies as movie monsters pretty much derives from Carter's discovery, so Tut really "wins."



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