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King Tut set to impress Londoners

  • Story Highlights
  • King Tutankhamun exhibition due to open in London this Thursday
  • Organizers have sold 325,000 tickets and expect more than 1 million visitors
  • The exhibit, which showcases King Tut's royal diadem, is on for one year
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The glistening treasures of King Tut, the popular name of the famous Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamun, are fascinating a new generation of Londoners more than 25 years after the first exhibition was greeted with fanfare on British shores.

The artifacts are part of a fresh exhibit that arrives in London this week called "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs."

Exhibit organizers say they have sold and reserved 325,000 tickets ahead of the opening day on Thursday and predict more than 1 million visitors by the end of the year-long show. Adult tickets cost between $15 and $20.

The exhibit is inside London's former Millennium Dome, now renamed The O2. It presents 50 objects from Tutankhamun's tomb and more than 70 artifacts from other royal graves of the same dynasty, all of them between 3,300 and 3,500 years old.

While visitors will be able to see King Tut's royal diadem -- the gold crown which was discovered on the head of Tut's mummified body, they will not be able to see his gleaming golden death mask, which remains at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Visitors will also not be able to see the king's face, which was revealed to the public for the first time in Egypt this month. It is preserved inside a climate-controlled plexiglass container in Luxor, Egypt, near the Valley of the Kings.

Treasures which are on display include one of the gold and precious stone-inlaid "coffinettes" which contained Tut's mummified internal organs. There is also a small ebony and ivory chair which the king sat on as a child, along with his crook and flail.

Other items include a ceremonial gold dagger from Tutankhamun's reign, an ancient dog collar, a turquoise and gold-colored cosmetics container, statues which guarded the tombs of Tut's relatives, and coffins.

It was 1972 when the first exhibition of King Tut's treasures came to London as part of a tour which also went to the United States. It sparked a King Tut frenzy and the exhibit was a sellout; lines snaked around the British Museum and the wait to get in was as long as eight hours.

The exhibition was much smaller then, with only 55 objects on display. Still, the show in London attracted 1.7 million visitors, which remains a record for UK museums.

A spokeswoman for the British Museum, Hannah Boulton, says organizers offered to let the museum host the show again, but the museum had to decline because it was already committed to another show, "The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army."

Boulton says the British Museum was still involved in the King Tut show by providing educational resources and providing a gallery about Howard Carter, the British archaeologist who opened the tomb in 1922.

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National Geographic is organizing the current tour along with AEG Exhibitions and Arts and Exhibitions International, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. National Geographic says revenue from the tour will go toward preserving Egypt's treasures and building a new Grand Museum in Cairo.

The current exhibition has already been to Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in 2005; Chicago in 2006, and Philadelphia earlier this year. After London, the show is scheduled to go to Dallas. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN Correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.

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