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King Tut sarcophagus replica.
King Tut sarcophagus replica.

Fake King Tut Tomb

Field review by the editors.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Egyptophiles, magically bestowed with time travel tickets, might opt to be whisked to old Egypt and its rich chronology of kingdoms, stunning architecture and culture -- from the pre-dynastic to Ptolemaic.

Enter the fake Tomb of King Tut -- if you dare.
Enter the fake Tomb of King Tut -- if you dare.

But roadside Ancient Egypt tourists? We'd leap straight to modern day's Las Vegas Natural History Museum (LVNHM) to enjoy a perfectly preserved 1990s Fake King Tut Tomb experience.

It takes a little explaining, but here goes: in 1993 the Luxor Casino -- with its own pyramid and Sphinx -- arose on the Las Vegas landscape. It made sense: King Tut fever had gripped the nation as the wildly successful "Treasures of Tutankhamun" toured city museums. The Luxor, and its indoor Tut's Tomb Attraction, was designed to leverage that enthusiasm, and to woo families, not just gamblers, to Sin City. For years it was the classiest joint on the Strip.

Times and tastes change, and in 2008 the fake tomb was scrapped by the casino. Fortuitously, the $3mm tomb exhibit was donated to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which reopened it as Treasures of Egypt. The basic bones of the original tomb and later casino museum elements are here.

Replica canopic chest contained jars with eyes and tongue.
Replica canopic chest contained jars with eyes and tongue.

The tomb and everything in it -- gold statues, chariots, mummies, nearly 500 artifacts -- are fake, but they're really, really good fakes -- one of only two sets authorized by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

We walk into a corridor of simulated stone and fake flame torches. A statue of the guardian of the Pharaoh's tomb "speaks" via projected lips, using 1990s video technology. A quick image of the Fabulous Vegas sign spins into a crudely animated airliner flying "7,000 miles to the Sahara Desert in Egypt. As you travel you will go back in time -- 3,000 years."

Breathy flute plays in the background as we move through the series of rooms and corridors. "Touch to Explore" hieroglyphics trigger videos and prerecorded bits. There are many factoid signs. We learn that "Beer was the main drink for adults and children, as it was healthier than water drawn from the river, which was polluted." Poor laborers were paid in beer.

Stuff just like what a dead king needs in the afterlife.
Stuff just like what a dead king needs in the afterlife.

In another chamber, a large '90ish computer game onscreen loops next to a Dromedary Camel taxidermy mount (on loan from a Utah wildlife museum).

The fake tomb itself cannot be entered, and its contents can be viewed through windows and peepholes on all sides. The tomb is stacked with everything that Tutankhamun might need in the afterlife: furniture, utensils, pottery, a couple of chariots, wheels and chests piled on the ground. That's a lot of tripping hazards, so it's understandable the Luxor and LVNHM opted for a glimpses that might vex a grave robber, but seemed to work for folks on vacation.

Towards the end of the experience we view the dramatically lit golden sarcophagus of Tutankhaten, antepenultimate pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt.

(Tip: Try holding your phone directly on the glass to minimize reflections from the wall behind you).

To further its educational mission, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum has added a "mummy scan." Visitors manually drag the scanner over one of the dummy mummies, seeing medical images taken of a real mummy. Our local Las Vegas guide/family member, age 89, remembered a similar self-scanning device, the Foot-o-Scope, that she used in a shoe store when she was a little girl.

Simulated scan of a replica mummy.
Simulated scan of a replica mummy.

"Except that was unshielded x-ray radiation you blasted at your feet," we reminded her. She quickly pointed out that King Tut was dead at age nineteen. "So young."

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum also features galleries of dinosaur animatronics, Early Man, the African savanna and rain forest, a cabinet full of glowing minerals, and a Yellow Submarine in the basement play room.

Because you can never have too much of a good thing in Las Vegas, in 2022 the Luxor Casino flip-flopped and opened a second, entirely different (but still entirely fake) King Tut Tomb. Promised as more immersive with the latest tech. Animations and "virtual reality pods." We're hoping some of that will be worth moving to the LVNHM when the Luxor tires of it.

Fake King Tut Tomb

Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Address:
900 Las Vegas Blvd N., Las Vegas, NV
Directions:
Las Vegas Natural History Museum. North side of the city. I-515 exits 75 or 75A, or just drive north on The Strip until it crosses I-515. Turn north onto Las Vegas Blvd, then drive about a half-mile. The museum will be on the right, between Las Vegas Blvd and Washington, adjacent to Cashman Center.
Hours:
Daily 9-4 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
702-384-3466
Admission:
Adults $10. Free for Clark County teachers.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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