Between Spectacle and Science: Margaret Murray and the Tomb of the Two Brothers


This article explores the history of mummy unwrappings in the West, culminating in Margaret Murray's public unrolling of two mummies in Manchester in 1908. Mummy unwrappings as a practice have shifted often between public spectacles which displayed and objectified exotic artifacts, and scientific investigations which sought to reveal medical and historical information about ancient life. Although others have looked at Murray's work in the context of the history of mummy studies, I argue that her work should be viewed culturally as poised between spectacle and science, drawing morbid public interest while also producing ground-breaking scientific work that continues to this day. Murray's main goal was to excite the interest of the public while at the same time educating them in the true history of ancient Egypt, while ascertaining new scientific information and contributing to the scholarly interpretations of ancient Egypt.


History and Political Science


Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 October 2012

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0269-8897; 1474-0664

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2012 Cambridge University Press, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

Dec 2012