Reel and Real Mummies
Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 7:30pm
Reel and Real Mummies

Room 238, Smith Memorial Student Union                 
Portland State University

Free and Open to the Public

By Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith 
Univ of California, Santa Barbara


From epic blockbusters to B grade thrillers, ancient Egypt is one of the most popular archaeological and historical genres for films. Hollywood’s Egyptomania draws heavily on the popularity of Egypt’s exotic settings and past glories. 

Around the turn of the last century, the media of motion pictures emerged and Egyptian- themed films were among the first produced. Mummies were--by far--the most popular theme. The ancient Egyptian mummy film genre again recently burst into theaters with Universal Studio’s special effects-driven The Mummy (1999) and its sequel The Mummy Returns (2001).

Dr. Smith will outline the basic Egypt inspired themes in film, focusing on the mummy genre and the origins of Hollywood’s mummy myths. Referencing his work on the movies Stargate, The Mummy, and The Mummy Returns, he will compare Hollywood’s mummies to the insights that archaeology and Egyptology provide into the reality of death and burial in ancient Egypt, where mummies did take a central--if generally less--mobile role. 


Dr. Smith has written numerous articles, reviews and three books, including Wretched Kush: Ethnic Identities and Boundaries in Egypt’s Nubian Empire (2003). Active in field archaeology, he has worked in Luxor’s Theban Necropolis; since 1997, he has directed a project at Tombos, a New Kingdom cemetery, pharaonic town and pyramids in Sudanese Nubia. In 1993, he was the Egyptological Consultant on the hit MGM movie Stargate, advising on the script, sets, costumes, and recreating spoken ancient Egyptian for much of the dialog. He renewed his Hollywood connection in 1998 and 2000, consulting on the Universal remake of The Mummy and on The Mummy Returns. He is chair of the Anthropology Dept, at UC Santa Barbara.


Lecture sponsored Lecture sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt in cooperation with the Middle East Studies Center of Portland State University.