Today: May 22, 2024

Mummy Mania

Discoveries in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in the 19th Century captured the public’s imagination as never before. From mummy unwrapping parties to huge, travelling exhibitions, Victorian Britain revelled in mummy mania—and the fascination that our ancestors had with Ancient Egypt has never really gone away.

The first mummy-themed horror novel appeared in an 1827 tale by Jane C. Loudon. The first film arrived in 1911 and the franchise—cemented by Universal and revitalised by Hammer—is still a sure-fire money-spinner. But arguably, while shuffling bandage-wrapped mummies have become a staple of  pop culture, it’s one real-life story that’s proved to be every bit as compelling as that lurid fiction: Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of the boy-king, Tutankhamun.

When the Carter first entered the tomb of the young pharaoh in 1922 he was astounded by what he saw. Plied high, in every corner, were what he called, “wonderful things”— a royal throne, beds, footstools, and life-size statues flickering in the torchlight, appearing to stride towards him in the gloom. Although it was clear that tomb robbers had ransacked the chamber soon after he king’s burial, remarkably most of the grave’s original contents still seemed to be there.

This November, the largest collection of Tutankhamun’s Treasures ever to travel out of Egypt will open at the Saatchi Gallery in London and, with it, comes all the excitement of Carter’s “wonderful things”.

Thames & Hudson’s critically-acclaimed volume Tutankhamun: Treasures Of The Tomb celebrates the site’s most magnificent artefacts, including all of the objects in the current Tutankhamen exhibition.  It’s a book that writers, artists, historians, and dreamers will find not just invaluable—inspirational.

The tomb of Tutankhamen, with its breathtaking treasures, remains tone of the most sensational archaeological find of all time. This brilliantly illustrated volume takes the reader through Tutankhamen’s tomb room-by-room, in the order that it was discovered and excavated by Howard Carter.

In 296 full-colour pages, and with 324 photographs, carefully selected objects are used to illustrate the entire ten years of painstaking excavation and documentation carried out by Carter and his team. Dr. Zahi Hawass imbues the text with his own inimitable flavour, imagining how the uncovering and opening of the tomb must have felt for Carter. Sandro Vannini’s extraordinary images allow the objects from the tomb to be seen in even more detail than is possible with the naked eye, with stunning full-colour spreads and foldouts throughout the book. 

Tutankhamun: The Treasures of the Tomb (ISBN: 0500293902), is published  by Thames & Hudson and available to buy, RRP £29.95, from 16th August.

The exhibition runs at London’s Saatchi Gallery from Saturday 2nd November 2019 to 3rd May 2020.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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