Most People couldn’t name the present president of Egypt and lots of could be hard-pressed to name anything that’s happened in Egypt in the final 30 years — or maybe 3,000 years. (It’s Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, and plenty has happened.) But they know about mummies and pyramids and King Tut, and probably even hieroglyphs — an out of date form of writing from a distant culture that hasn’t existed for more than 1,600 years.
This fascination has been around for an extended time. In reality there’s a word for it: Egyptomania. It first contaminated the West when Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, bringing 167 scholars with him, together with the long run director of the Louvre Museum. They returned to France with the primary scientific understanding of ancient Egypt, if not the boatloads of antiquities they had supposed to take with them. (Most of those went to the British Museum, in London, after the British Army kicked the French out of Egypt and seized the obelisks, statues, and different loot — including the Rosetta Stone — as spoils of war.)
Egyptomania crossed the Atlantic to the United States, which was just as beguiled by this rich and inscrutable empire re-rising from the sand. (Think of the Washington Monument and the pyramid on the greenback bill.) It popped up again, in a big way, in the Twenties, when King Tut’s tomb was discovered — dripping with gold — and every flapper worth her gin was sporting a Cleopatra bob, a tunic, and amulet jewelry.
People welcomed the distraction of a blinding, distant tradition when the “Treasures of Tutankhamun” arrived in the mid-1970s, in the wake of Watergate and inflation and an energy crisis. The exhibition featured a few of the most spectacular objects found in Tut’s tomb, together with his funeral mask and a big model boat meant to shuttle him to the afterworld. They were despatched from Egypt in a goodwill gesture, arranged by Richard Nixon and Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat to seal a new diplomatic understanding, just months before Nixon resigned.
By the point the show opened, in November 1976, at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., Jimmy Carter had just been elected president and the United States was celebrating its bicentennial. More than 835,000 people got here to see the show in D.C. — more than the population of the city itself, lining up across the three-block-long building for as much as 4 hours. The museum sold $a hundred,000 worth of souvenirs every week — and that’s in 1976 dollars. Meanwhile, television specials provided close-ups, in order that anyone — wherever — may become an armchair Egyptologist.
Today, it’s inconceivable to see or stage a show about ancient Egypt without thinking about colonization or appropriation or both. From Napoleon to Elizabeth Taylor to the Book of the Dead being characterised as the “Bible”of historical Egypt (not even close), the modern history of the culture is erasure. Even the name of the country is an imposition. Early on, Egyptians referred to their kingdom as Kemet — the Black Land, a reference to the rich soil along the Nile — and later as Hwt-ka-Ptah. Egypt is a Greek term, as the Greeks found the native name hard to pronounce after they invaded Egypt in 332 BCE.
If you liked this write-up and you would such as to obtain additional facts regarding Ancient Egypt daily life kindly go to our own page.