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Media Sensationalism and the Development of the Modern Cult of Tutankhamun

Uploaded by ahstillwell on Oct 30, 2006

Media sensationalism and media hypes are things that are painfully obvious in all of our lives. Every person of this generation can remember the hype of Y2K, the insanity of the 2000 Presidential Election, the exaggerated numbers associated with Hurricane Katrina, the panic of SARS and the currently claimed explosion of the avian flu across the world. Our parents remember that the only real way to protect oneself from an atomic blast is to “duck and cover.” The insanity even travels to foreign countries, with Britain’s media hype regarding “flesh-eating” bugs and South Korea with its infamous “fan death” stories. With advancements in communication, all we have been able to do is spread lies faster. Everyone jumps to be the first to report something so that they can claim to have the “exclusive news” that no one else has; they want to be “first instead of right.”

When Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, he knew that he had found something that was going to make him famous. The public loves stories of intrigue and royalty, whether that royalty is the Queen of England or the latest Hollywood starlet, so a mysterious foreign monarch from centuries earlier was the perfect object for the media limelight. There was a general lack of information about the pharaoh, who had obviously died very young, so the media was able to fill in the blanks. What happened to Tutankhamun? He was somehow related to the famous Heretic King, who had been in all of the London papers previously, and it was generally known that the change to the new religion was resisted and mostly despised by the king’s subjects. Of course then, Tutankhamun must have been murdered by angry people in his court who looked to remove all proof that the Atenist era had ever taken place!

It is the romantic view of the young pharaoh: a teenager devoted to his wife and the greatness of the Egyptian kingdom was knocked off by angry elders who wanted to take his place. Given a hasty burial in a simple nobleman’s tomb, he was left to the ages and never expected to be found. Mix into this the influence of movies like Freund’s The Mummy and sensational “findings” by x-ray of the “real” cause of Tutankhamun’s death and we have a great story.

Howard Carter discovered the famous tomb in 1922 after seasons of work...

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Uploaded by:   ahstillwell

Date:   10/30/2006

Category:   History

Length:   16 pages (3,496 words)

Views:   1777

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