Tutankhamen, Egyptomania, and Temporal Enchantment in Interwar Britain.
Twentieth Century British History
Oxford University Press (OUP)
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Fryxell, A. (2017). Tutankhamen, Egyptomania, and Temporal Enchantment in Interwar Britain.. Twentieth Century British History, 28 (4), 516-542. https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwx056
In 1923 or thereabouts, Britain fell under the ‘Tut-ankh-amen spell’. Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 prompted a new wave of popular interest in ancient Egypt that suffused British culture, casting Tutankhamen’s ‘spell’ over movies, music, mummies, and more.2 Reinvigorated ‘Egyptian’ styles in architecture, interior design, and commodities capitalized upon the visual motifs of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ‘Egyptomanias’. Though distinct for its mass commodification, interwar Egyptomania further developed Victorian Britain’s fascination with ancient curses, Egyptian mummies, the fourth dimension, and the Book of the Dead.3 It also catalysed a widespread interest in Egyptology that fuelled disputes over the continued ‘exploitation’ of Egyptian heritage by Western archaeologists, contributing to Egyptian nationalism, pharaonism (national pride in Egypt’s history), and Egypt’s domestic film industry.4 Yet reading the phenomenon through the framework of modernism produces a compellingly different narrative of Tutankhamen’s significance. Rather than speaking to imperialism, nationalism, or the politics of Egyptology, this interpretation offers new insight into the relationship between modernity, temporality, and modern enchantment.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwx056
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/282906