Since his discovery on November 4, 1922, King Tutankhamun has been turned into a symbol of ancient Egyptian culture by the Western world. Through Orientalist representation, the West has ensconced Tutankhamun into their own visualization of ancient Egypt that is removed from most historical realism. He has become a symbol for a distant and exotified past, which further contributes to the romanticization of ancient Egypt by the West. Tutankhamun has had a profound influence on numerous Western cultural outlets including art, fashion, architecture, film, music, and much more. This is because Tutankhamun, or at least his Western portrayal, has captivated the imagination of the Occident. He has come to embody an idealized past filled with mystery, curses, and treasure. The Western world has turned Tutankhamun into a marketing tool using sensationalism and Oriental tropes of Egypt. This paper will explore the ways in which this has happened since his discovery, as well as discuss the role that Howard Carter had in all of it. Tutankhamun’s discovery happened right after Egypt achieved independence from Britain, and for the first time a former colony got to keep every artifact of a European archaeological find.

First Advisor

Professor Poppy Fry

Date of Completion

Spring 5-15-2019

Degree Type






Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in History

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2019




University of Puget Sound