This made my travelling companion Mr. W smile. “Tutankhamun Town Centre” conjures up such spectacular images. Egyptology is not a specialist subject of mine, but the ruined temple complex of Karnak came to mind. Could you imagine rows of columns, like stone palm trees, covered in hieroglyphics, lining the High Street from the statue of Thomas Hardy [which is just off the High Street, but I’m sure you can stretch your imagination a bit further regarding this detail] to the River Frome?
On a serious note, the sign actually refers to The Tutankhamun Exhibition, which has been a permanent fixture in Dorchester since 1986. I haven’t visited the exhibition myself, but the its website informs me that, “All the exhibits have been carefully crafted by meticulous reference to the original antiquities, photographic records and detailed measurements and diagrams. Craftsmen and artists have recreated the treasures by using, wherever practicable, materials and methods used in making the originals, making the treasures shown in this exhibition identical as possible to the originals now in Egypt”.
To quote from this guide, “Here at Leeds City Museum you will experience a world of discovery. Spread across four floors of interactive and exciting galleries, you will come face to face with the Leeds tiger, step back into ancient worlds and see the final resting place of the Leeds mummy and much, much more“.
I keeps this because it reminds me of the British capacity to adopt things that are not native to our shores; a capacity you don’t hear much about these days (you certainly wont read about it in the tabloid press).
According to a certain on-line encyclopaedia, it was a case of curiosity killed the cat that lead to the death of the Tiger (it was shot because it prowled to close for comfort to an Indian village) and it started its life as an iconic exhibit at the Leeds City Museum as a rug! Now it is such an iconic symbol of Leeds that, when the curator threatened to throw it out, The Yorkshire Post started a petition to save it. Before his death and mummification, Nesyamun was a Priest of The Temple of Karnak, who must have been held in very high regard 3000 years ago, back in Ancient Egypt. Since 1823, Nesyamun has achieved posthumous fame as one of the most studied Ancient Egyptian mummies in Britain and with the destruction of the Museum’s other two mummies in a bombing raid on Leeds in 1941, I suppose Nesyamun took the undisputed mantle of the Leeds Mummy.
An Indian Tiger and an Egyptian Mummy; both indisputably from Leeds.