Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs: Reinforcing Preconceived Notions

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Ominous, monolithic wooden doors, slanted backwards to accentuate their apparent height, swing slowly and automatically outward, beckoning the carefully counted herd of visitors into a darkened room lit only with eerie blue light trickling out of hieroglyphic sconces. Doors close behind, the lights dim - so begins the visitor’s journey among the treasures of ancient Egypt. Each visitor’s Egyptian immersion, however, started long before entering the “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” exhibit at the San Francisco De Young museum. The ancient Egyptian “mega-myth” – of grandiose and opulent Pharaohs, majestic, mysterious pyramids, sphinxes, Cleopatra, Ramesses, and of course King Tut – is deeply ingrained through popular…show more content…
Through its emphasis on theatrics, its textual descriptions, and its overall layout and tone, "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" presents the value of Egyptian archaeology as not in discovering and preserving local or global heritage, but in supporting the vaguer, more mystical myth of Egypt - a glorified and mysterious past of godlike Pharaohs and vast treasures, which, whether accurate or not, brings in a modern plunder of its own. Such a gross dramatization of Egyptian culture can and does occur, as its only stakeholders are those with moneyed interest in the exploitation of antiquities – modern society has very little direct attachments to ancient Egypt beyond its treasured artifacts. In the case of “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” this manipulation and romanticizing of Egyptian history is felt in its full effect, a direct reflection of the personalities and goals of those who created and funded the exhibit, with the ultimate goal of drawing more visitors and more profit. In a concerted effort to boost revenue, the exhibit relies heavily on drama and theatrics to verify and aggrandize the Egyptian mega-myth, promoting the air of majesty and

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