Today: June 22, 2024

Mummy Mania Rocks London

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 modern pop culture, it’s a real-life story that has proved to be every bit as compelling as lurid that fiction: Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of the boy-king, Tutankhamun.

When the Carter first entered the tomb of the young pharaoh Tutankhamen in AD 1923 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, striding forth in kilt and golden sandals. 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 seemed to be there.

Ahead of the 97th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the largest collection of Tutankhamun’s Treasures ever to travel out of Egypt opens this week at the Saatchi Gallery in London and, with it, comes all the excitement of Carter’s wonderful things. With more than 250,000 tickets already sold, the show is the hottest ticket in town. 

For those who want that film-fix, CityLights, an immersive entertainment company, have partnered with IMG to debut a ground-breaking art virtual reality experience Tutankhamun: Enter The Tomb. Audiences who opt for the add-on experience will experience the impossible – flying through a photorealistic version of the legendary pharaoh’s tomb, as Howard Carter would have uncovered it in 1922. The eight-minute experience is narrated by Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, in a nod to the fictional role he played and the equivalent real Lord Carnarvon, who funded Carter’s archaeological pursuit in the same era as the iconic TV series.

We are so delighted to have the opportunity to glimpse at these “wonderful things” in London. This extraordinary discovery, nearly 100 years ago, was the first global media event, capturing the imagination and fascination of every generation in every country. It is about exploration, works of art and the passion for antiquity,” commented George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and his wife, Lady Fiona Carnarvon.

Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh presented by Viking Cruises opens at the Saatchi Gallery from Saturday 2nd November 2019 – Sunday 3rd May 2020. are Tickets on-sale now. Please visit: www.tutankhamun-london.com

 The Saatchi Gallery is located at: Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY

Images: Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy.

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: writerpaula@icloud.com

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