The European public eagerly immersed themselves in the latest archaeological discoveries from the Arab and Ottoman world.
The new science of archaeology was front-page news in the 19th century. Strange and amazing artefacts from distant lands brought people face to face with ancient cultures: here were Egyptian mummies and life-size figures of Assyria’s fearsome kings. The public flocked to museums to see these wonders for themselves. No longer did we have to rely on written accounts produced by other, often hostile, cultures. Here we could see for the first time the physical reality of the lost peoples. Would what they have to tell us confirm or disprove the written accounts?
At the Great Exhibitions, ancient cultures joined their modern successors in showing off their achievements. Before moving pictures were invented, public lantern slideshows both educated and entertained. At the turn of the 20th century, picture postcards enjoyed the popularity Twitter does today. Archaeological topics were part of these crazes.