Various things I’ve been involved in over the last couple of years have led to a bit of media coverage. Making a contribution to public understanding of ancient Egypt and the issues involved is important both to my work for the EES and to me personally. These are a few recent examples:
Interview with Times Higher Education
Following my election as President of the International Association of Egyptologists (more here) I was invited to share a few thoughts with the THE “about mummies, whether university is right for everyone and his one-time ambition to play guitar for Radiohead.” (I was especially pleased about the last bit). The full interview is here.
Tutankhamun: chariot accident and spontaneous combustion
During 2012 and 2013 I was involved in the making of a film about the death of Tutankhamun (more here) and some new research which suggested he may have been killed in a chariot accident and that his mummified body spontaneously combusted in its tomb shortly after burial. This made the national and international press, and also led to some hilarious headlines (e.g. ‘‘Car crash’ death of Tutankhamun‘ in The Sunday Times, ‘King Tutankhamun was one of the first BOY RACERS‘ in The Mirror, ‘Mummy-fried!‘ in The Daily Mail, and, most memorably, ‘Who set Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun on fire?‘ in The Daily Star). It also made for a dizzying few days of radio and TV interviews like this one:
The sale of the ‘Harageh Treasure’
In October 2014 a group of objects excavated by Flinders Petrie at the site of Harageh, near to the Faiyum Oasis in Egypt, was put up for sale at auction by Bonhams of London. The objects had been in the collection of the St Louis branch of the American Institute of Archaeology (AIA). Egyptologists objected as Petrie had sent them there on condition that they should remain in publicly accessible but the sale meant there was a danger they would disappear into private hands. Public collections offer the best hope that ancient objects are safeguarded against loss or deterioration to their condition, and that they will remain accessible to scholars and the wider public for study and enjoyment. Objects which are sold on the open market may be transferred to collections which are not required to provide such safeguards, and which have no obligations to make the material they contain accessible.
Dr Alice Stevenson of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and I produced this public statement objecting to the sale which gathered a bit of media attention e.g. in The Daily Telegraph (see above) and Medavia. Some further thoughts on the subject are here, and here’s me explaining a few of the issues ahead of a conference on similar themes held in Manchester in October 2014:
In 2014 the EES inaugurated a programme to bring the some of the brightest and most promising young Egyptian archaeologists and Egyptologists to London for a month of research and visits to colleagues and institutions. This led to a piece in the Guardian, ‘New generation of archaeologists takes ancient Egypt into 21st century‘, in October 2014.
Great Birmingham Run
In October 2014 I did the Great Birmingham Run (a half marathon) wearing a Tut-style headdress to raise money for Cure Leukaemia, a favourite charity of mine. The charity is based at the University of Birmingham where I studied, and my silly plan got a bit of attention in the local press (‘Bupa Great Birmingham Run – TV presenter Chris Nauton to run like an Egyptian‘) which I hope might have helped the fundraising a little. I’m in this film a bit:
Tutankhamun’s beard <<shakes head…>>
In early 2015 the beard came off Tut’s death mask and the world got overexcited about it. I provided a few comments here and there e.g. for CBS News:
… and BBC Radio Five Live:
I was very grateful to journalist Patrick Kingsley for making sure I was happy with the wording of the quote he would use for a piece inThe Guardian (‘Tutankhamun’s beard glued back on, say Egyptian museum conservators‘) and very unhappy with The Independent for borrowing Patrick’s work and conjuring up the fiction that ‘Director of the Egypt Exploration Society claims to have seen the evidence’:
I should add that they did correct the piece after I complained, however, for which I was grateful.