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Displaying Egyptomania at the RMO

December 8, 2018


Following on by my brief review of the rich and diverse Egyptian mortuary archaeology on display at Leiden’s RMO, I was struck by the detailed attention afforded to Egyptomania as a phenomenon in the collections. In two places, in the permanent Egyptian exhibition, and a fabulous temporary exhibition on Egyptian religion and death, the museums’ collections of 18th-21st-century items inspired by the Western antiquarian and archaeological entanglement with ancient Egypt is explored.

More recently, there are DC cartoons on display, and action figures too.

Moreover, there are a range of products alluding to Egytpian themes in a central display case.


One is left wondering: where aren’t Egyptian themes present and sanctioned in Western popular culture, and which Egyptian themes are most prominent in the context of this bewildering variety? The ancient Egypt we inherit is distorted in multiple fashions, including seemingly by enhancing its mortuary, cultic and supernatural allusions…

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