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The Amber of Tutankhamun

The Amber of Tutankhamun exhibition is a part of the Riga – European Capital of Culture’s Amber Vein thematic line, revealing its international, and in particular, its ancient dimension. This exhibition is dedicated to the culture of Ancient Egypt. The name of the exhibition is a metaphor, and doesn’t pretend to have the Tutankhamun treasure at hand. It is a legend about a piece of Baltic amber sitting on Tutankhamen’s chest, in the dim light of his tomb.

People in the Baltics say that the Sun Stone, protecting the Pharaoh’s body could be Baltic amber. Traversing the distant amber roads, we have found another subject for a metaphor, which unites the many stories of the Amber Vein exhibitions about the Sun Stone and ancient civilizations. It is the so-called Alianello diadem, created in the Syrian-Phoenician region and dated at 4th – 7th century B.C., which was discovered in southern Italy, in the former Magna Grecia, in the territory of a Greek colony. In this ornament, there are little pieces of amber, Phoenician glass beads, Mediterranean sea-shells and Egyptian scarabs, all woven onto a single strand. In other words, there are treasures from the north and from the south, all woven onto the same strand.

Maybe it’s not even that important whether it’s simetite from Sicily, the very ancient 120–130 million year old Lebanese amber, or succinite (called elektron in the Greek colonies) from the Baltics. Our Amber Exhibition is a symbolic story about the significance of this material in such diverse cultures.
Text: Daiga Upeniece