The underwear once worn by the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun is the centerpiece of a new touring exhibition entitled "Tutankhamun and the Golden Ass of the Pharaohs." After a successful run in Europe, where it was entitled "Tutankhamun: the Golden Behind," the exhibition will be visiting Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, and Philadelphia starting next month.
In order to learn more about the king's life, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has conducted a DNA test on the underwear. "The ancient Egyptians invented the DNA sample," says director general of the SCA, Zahi Hawass. "Before Monica Lewinsky's blue dress, and even before OJ Simpson's gloves, there was Tut's underwear." Tests were done on the underwear to identify any semen present. On a program detailing the study on National Geographic Television last week, Hawass proudly announced, "The results of the semen test were positive, proving that Tut was not simply a boy king, but a real man."
Other Egyptologists disagreed with Hawass, however, noting that the removal of Tut's underwear for the DNA test revealed that his penis is now missing. A dissenting Egyptologist, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear he might not be allowed to work in Egypt again for expressing his opinion, exclaimed "How on earth can you call this mummy that of a man, let alone a king, when the crown jewels are missing?"
However, this small detail seems to have been overlooked by the Hanes Corporation, which is currently in negotiation with Hawass for the rights to market a replica of the underwear. It is rumored that Steve Martin, familiar to most Americans for his Tut skit on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, will be hired as the model for the advertising campaign.
Not everyone was pleased with this baring of Tut's secrets. A descendent of Tutankhamun from Luxor, Egypt, Hassan Hamdi Hussein, was vehemently opposed to the exposure of the king's underwear on television, and in the upcoming exhibition. Taking a cue from Saddam Hussein's lawyer, he is suing National Geographic Television for the broadcast, claiming it is a violation of his ancestor's privacy. He has also demanded that President Hosni Mubarak launch an inquiry into the affair by detaining Hawass, his family, and all the residents of his neighborhood for questioning under Egypt's emergency law.