The Paris art world reports the biggest attendance in its centuries-long exhibit history. Yahoo notes a whopping 1.3 million visitors to La Villette Hall - so far. The show isn't over until Sept. 22. Even before the doors opened, more than 5,000 people lined up to get in. So, what do you think this record-breaking attraction is about - a lost Leonardo found in someone's attic, yet another Mona Lisa? No and no. Would you believe the big draw making headlines this month are the findings taken from a dug-up grave?

A grave matter

Granted, the deceased was a pharaoh - Tutankhamun of ancient Egypt (a.k.a. KingTut), but a grave is a grave - a sacred site, isn't it? Should its contents be unearthed, let alone put on display complete with a ticket booth? Clearly, my concern isn't shared by those involved, beginning with British archaeologist Howard Carter who "discovered" the contents of this tomb in 1924. But the most unexpected part of this story is that Nile people are running the show, namely the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Of all people, they should know better. Consider the following.

The bodyguard

One of the objects dug up is a statue of Amon, lord of the gods in Egypt and known as Tut's protector. Exhuming it along with a reported 150 other personal items like money and jewelry, as well as the mummified king himself, doesn't say much for Amon's bodyguarding. What's more, these items were meant for Tut's afterlife, which is why he took so much with him. Now they lie in a Paris hall for anyone to see for the price of a ticket.

Does anyone care that the deceased - a19-year-old boy king - is going without into the afterlife that he believed in? Yahoo calls the collection "the largest number of Tutankhamun artifacts ever to have left Cairo." Really? Where was the regard of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities? Yahoo says that this group shares in the gate receipts for the show. In other words, the hell with the boy's beliefs.

There's money to be made. With all this in mind, the scene at the show borders on the obscene. At the opening, the Paris Review noted that despite long lines, visitors had the opportunity to have their photograph taken. What, no hot dog stands?

Breaking faith

I wrote of this show last year when it was presented at the California Science Center and reviewed by LA Times art critic Christopher Knight as Tut's "desperate bid for immortality." But Knight failed to acknowledge that such a bid went out of the window with his belongings, along with his mummified remains were unburied.

By the way, that jewelry in the exhibit was originally wrapped inside his mummified bandages? I'd understand if the display was mounted by some Phineas T. Barnum emporium of curiosities operated for profit and intended as entertainment. But not by Tut's own people.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more