Perceptions of Egypt: from Mummymania to Museums

Part of the Bloomsbury Summer School 2011

Dr Karen Exell

Curator, Egypt and Sudan, Manchester Museum, University of Manchester

Ancient Egypt is more popular today than it has ever been. TV programmes, films, novels and the internet contain a vast array of interpretations of ancient Egypt, often casting it as a place adventure, romance and esoteric knowledge.  There are around 50 ancient Egypt societies in the UK alone, where enthusiasts share their knowledge and interests.  Ancient Egypt is integral to Key Stage 2 teaching at primary schools and cultural tours to Egypt are perennially popular.  Within academia, conferences and academic papers analyse the cultural impact of the contemporary fascination with ancient Egypt.  Bridging the two are museums and exhibitions which offer the material culture of Egypt in a variety of interpretations.  This course will look at how Egypt has been received and interpreted in the West since the discovery of the Rosetta stone in 1799 and the subsequent translation of hieroglyphs in 1822, up to the present.  We will discuss the romance of archaeology, from Belzoni to Zahi Hawass via Howard Carter, assess and discuss the impact of early museum displays and changing methods of interpretation, look at examples of Egyptianising architecture, and discuss movie clips and fiction extracts.  The course willinclude museum visits and a half-day London walk.

18-22 July 2011, UCL, London

For further information visit:

Or contact: Lucia Gahlin, Bloomsbury Summer School, Department of History, UCL, Gower St. London WC1E 6BT

Tel: 020 7679 3622