WEST PALM BEACH — A one-way ticket to Egypt will cost less than $20 this fall, thanks to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, as the local attraction is taking visitors on a journey thousands of years in the making.  The center says that visitors to the new exhibit, Afterlife: Tombs & Treasures of Ancient Egypt,  will feel like they have stepped into a time machine, warping them to an elaborate ancient empire.

The exhibit opened Oct. 10 at the Science Center, 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach. It has interactive components. The centerpiece is a full- size reconstruction of the burial chamber of the great Pharaoh Thutmose III.

Afterlife has been on tour for more than 10 years, and seen by more than 4.5 million people worldwide. It debuts in North America after a wildly-popular tour in Asia, where science-seekers lined up for more than 6 hours for a glimpse at the largest current touring exhibition of authentic Egyptian material. Visitors will see 200 original artifacts in the exhibit, which runs through Saturday, April 18.

“The afterlife is thrilling,” said Lew Crampton, Science Center CEO.  “Every culture has particular beliefs and customs about what happens when we die, with the Egyptians known for some of the most interesting and elaborate traditions.”

Crampton explained that preparations for the pharaohs’ tombs were incredibly intricate and embodied their deeply-rooted beliefs in life beyond the physical world. Excavated directly from the Egyptian tombs and towns, including the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, this is the largest touring exhibition of Egyptian material currently available, he said, noting that the Quantum Foundation helped underwrite the exhibit.

Among the most significant artifacts making its debut, is the Ramesside male mummy believed to be the son of Ramses II, often referred to as “Ramses the Great.” The identity of this 3,000-year-old mummy was most recently revealed through an advance Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan carried out during an episode of “Mummy Forensics” on The History Channel. Additionally, there are several other mummies in the exhibition, including a wrapped mummy of a woman and a mummy of a young girl believed to be about 4 – 8 years old.

Visitors to the exhibition begin their voyage to the Afterlife by discovering how sophisticated and rich ancient Egyptians’ lives were through displays related to life in ancient Egypt featuring many rare objects which illustrate their culture as well as their mastery of beautiful design.  They are introduced to the mysterious preparations the Egyptians made for death and burial which they believed would allow them to live forever.  Visitors encounter ancient animal mummies, an extraordinary number of human mummies, exquisite golden mummy masks and coffins, and strange magical figures from ancient tombs.  The exhibition culminates in making the journey to the Valley of the Kings by entering an exact facsimile of the tomb chamber of Thutmose III and discovering the Ramesside male mummy – one of the best preserved mummies in existence.

Widely considered the ‘Napoleon’ of Egypt, and a military genius by historians, Thutmose III was an active expansionist ruler.  Reigning over Egypt for more than 50 years, he has been credited with conquering more land than any pharaoh before or after him, expanding Egypt’s borders to create the largest empire ever conquered and ruled by one king.

“We know that a passion for science is at the heart of any health care career so, as a health care foundation, we’re excited that the South Florida Science Center is growing and developing as a center for science education in the region,” said Quantum Foundation President Eric Kelly.  “Big exhibits like this help draw new people in to explore the world of science and this exhibit will encourage those who haven’t experienced the Science Center to come and see how just how exciting it is.”

United Exhibits Group of Copenhagen, in cooperation with Bolton Museum in the United Kingdom, brought Afterlife to the Science Center. “The Afterlife Exhibition gives visitors to the South Florida Science Center the opportunity to experience first-hand the remains of one of the first great civilizations in world history” said Dr. Carolyn Routledge, chief curator.

“The ancient Egyptian artefacts on display, some over 5,000 years old, come from some of the most spectacular excavations in Egypt during the past 150 years.  We are very excited to be able to share with visitors the experience of being in an ancient Egyptian royal tomb and being in the presence of people who lived thousands of years ago, but had the same needs, feelings and ambitions that we do today,” she said.

IF YOU GO:

Afterlife: Tombs & Treasures of Ancient Egypt is on tour at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach, through April 18. Admission is $19.95 for adults, $15.95 for children aged 3 to 12, $17.95 for seniors aged 62 and older, and children under 3 are free.  Admission for Science Center members is $8. Center hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.For more information call 561-832-1988 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org.