LAS HORAS OSCURAS DEL SOL

Museo Arqueologico Nacional, Madrid, 2004

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Thutmose III was one of Ancient Egypt's greatest Pharaohs. Ruling during the Eighteenth Dynasty, from 1479 to 1426 BCE, I belong to the civilizations most glorious era and was noted for securing its borders against its African and Asian enemies. 

The celebrated ancient ruler and his final resting place were immortalized in what was the first Egyptian exhibition conceived and designed by Factum Arte, in this case working alongside the Santander Central Hispano Foundation for the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid. The concept for the exhibition was originally developed by the Egyptologist Dr Erik Hornung (professor emeritus at the University of Basel) and Dr Theodor Abt (president of the Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt, Zurich), with its massive success proven through its expansion into similar exhibits in cities around the world, including Edinburgh and Basel

The exhibition was centered around an exact replica of the burial chamber of the Tomb of Thutmose III produced by Factum Arte. The walls of the Tomb of Thutmose III in the Valley of the Kings Luxor contain the first complete depiction of the Book of the Amulet, also known as the Treatise of the Hidden Room. It chronicles the Pharaoh's journey through the twelve hours of darkness from sunset to sunrise the next morning. The text is a manual providing the key to eternity and identifies the magical spells and incantations required to overcome the dangers of the underworld. These painted walls were extensively photographed and then scanned by Factum Art in order to construct a vast, enlarged digital collage that removed all parallax effects and photographic distortion. The resulting files were then retouched to match the colors for those used in the original and later printed onto gesso panels using a flatbed pigment printer with an average dimension of 210 x 110 cm. The final dimensions of the facsimile stood at 18 x 9 x 3.2 meters, with two free-standing square columns measuring 1.2 meters on each side. Following the printing, key final detailing was added by hand to further emulate the damage and aging that gives the original walls their character and in turn reinforce the unnerving feeling of being inside an ancient tomb to the viewer.

This was displayed alongside 27 objects from the Archaeological Museum's permanent collection. Lasting for seven weeks, The Dark Hours of the Sun was visited by 97,000 people, a record for the museum. 

The interior of the exhibition

The interior of the exhibition

The interior of the exhibition

The interior of the exhibition

The interior of the tomb

The interior of the tomb

The interior of the tomb

Video showing the exhibition set up at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid

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