‘Photographing Tutankhamun’ exhibition reveals historical context behind pioneering images



Iconic photography taken during the decade-long excavation of King Tutankhamun’s tomb has gone on display at Cambridge University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA).

The exhibition gives a fresh take on one of the most famous archaeology discoveries from the last 100 years.
- Christina Riggs

The exhibition Photographing Tutankhamun has been curated by University of East Anglia (UEA) Egyptologist Dr Christina Riggs and gives a different view on the ‘golden age’ of archaeology and photography in the Middle East.

The exhibition highlights the work of famous Egyptologist and archaeological photographer Harry Burton and the iconic images he captured during the lengthy excavation of the Pharoah’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Dr Riggs is the first person to study the entire archive of excavation photographs, as well as the first to consider them from the viewpoint of photographic history in the Middle East.

She said: “The exhibition gives a fresh take on one of the most famous archaeology discoveries from the last 100 years. It questions the influence photography has on our perception and provides insight on the historical context of the discovery – a time when archaeology liked to present itself as a science that only Europeans and Americans could do.

“Through the eyes of the camera lens, the exhibition demonstrates the huge input from the Egyptian government and the hundreds of Egyptians working alongside the likes of Harry Burton and Howard Carter. This refreshing approach helps us understand what Tutankhamun meant to Egyptians in the 1920s – and poses the important question of what science looks like and who does it.”

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Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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