Your last chance to see Tutankhamun's tomb

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Visitors are causing so much damage to the tomb of Tutankhamun that Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities wants to close it and open a replica instead.

What excites us about the past is being there: feeling the heat as we climb a Mexican pyramid; adjusting our eyes to the light in the Pantheon; watching the paint peel off the walls of Tutankhamun's tomb. Peeling paint? If, in the brief, crushed tour of the Egyptian boy-king's rooms at Luxor we don't actually see it happen, we can certainly return later and note the damaging spread of holes and spots. Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has had enough of it. He promises that the tomb, and two others, will close by the end of the year. To keep tourists happy, he has commissioned a replica.

It won't be the first. You can already see one in Las Vegas: until recently, Tut's tomb graced the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel, filled with replica treasures. Now it has been installed in the city's Museum of Natural History. So will the Valley of the Kings become a Las Vegas Strip, more tat than Tut? Is there no other way?...

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