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Visions of Tutankhamun: the Modern History of an Ancient King

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Alex Gushurst-Moore.


His name is famous around the world thanks to the discovery of his intact burial in November 1922. But why did Tutankhamun’s tomb inspire such fervour in the 1920s, and how did his treasures later become a staple of museum tours, pop culture, and politics? This lecture will give a glimpse behind the gold, to challenge some of the myths and assumptions about the excavation of the tomb – with a focus on the role of visual culture in creating and sustaining them, from photography and film, to museum displays, commercial replicas, and protest art.


Christina Riggs is Professor of the History of Visual Culture at Durham University. Her books include Treasured: How Tutankhamun Shaped a Century (2021), Photographing Tutankhamun (2019, the first study ever undertaken of the photographic archive from the 1920s excavation), and Unwrapping Ancient Egypt (2014, which critiques the entwined histories of ‘mummy’ unwrappings, Egyptian archaeology, and colonialism).


This talk is part of the Cambridge Visual Culture series.

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