Howard Carter meets King Tut

On November 4, 1922, a young Egyptian boy was working hard taking water to other workers, when he noticed something unusual. A step hidden by the sand. The search had been going for quite a while and they were about to give up. This was the last chance to find him. Tutankhamen. Was this step, found by the boy accidentally, actually the first real clue after all this time? We’ll find out, but not until Howard Carter does some digging.

Howard Carter had first gone to Egypt as a young artist to sketch for an archaeologist. In 1907, Lord Carnarvon asked Howard to supervise some excavations in the Valley of the Kings. Howard was already quite familiar with the area having worked there for several years already and already discovered tombs. This was just furthering his work there. In 1922, Lord Carnarvon told Howard that he would fund only one more season. This was the last chance to find something.

After the step in the sand was finally discovered, they uncovered a stairway to a door. Howard wanted to wait for their benefactor and so Lord Carnarvon was sent for. They recovered everything that they had found, and waited until he arrived from England. Nearly three weeks later they opened the outside door to see what was inside. When asked what he could see, Howard said “wonderful things,” not knowing what they had even found yet just that they had found something.

Bemidji Daily Pioneer December 30, 1922

It wasn’t until February 17, 1923 that they were able to officially open the burial chamber, having seen other passages and cataloged the items within. They entered the tomb and eventually uncovered the gold coffin of the boy King Tut who Howard had long been interested in and searched for.

Unfortunately, not long after this Lord Carnarvon died from a mosquito bite in April 1923. This was turned into a “curse” by the media based on some of the writings on the door. This circled around for many, many years afterwards.

Howard Carter’s journal and the books that he wrote about the tomb tell a lot about both the items that were found and the way that things were done in the 1920s. It’s a bit like seeing two different time periods at once. The artifacts from 1300s BCE and the techniques of finding and cataloging everything within the tomb from the 1920s. Howard became a celebrity and so did King Tut as Egypt mania spread during this time. This would continue for a while until the next craze caught on.

Howard Carter died on March 2, 1939 at his home in London.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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