On the opposite side of the Nile River in the lobby of the historic Winter Palace Hotel Howard Carter posted the first public notice of the discovery by him and his patron Lord Carnarvon of the almost intact tomb of the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Carter and his patron had been associated for many years and had finally received the Egyptian government’s permission to excavate in the world-famous Valley of the Kings.
Theodore Davis who had previously held the permit discovered many generally ransacked tombs in the valley and confidently declared upon turning in his permit there was nothing left to find after six years of fruitless excavation. A water boy working under Carter stumbled upon a set of steps in the very heart of the valley that led to an underground sealed doorway. Carter immediately sent a telegram to Lord Carnarvon who was in England at the time informing him that he had discovered an intact tomb. Carnarvon rushed to Egypt and on making a breach in the tomb’s doorway. Excavation and clearance at the site proceeded deliberately with a team of experts that represented virtual who’s who in the field of Egyptology.
In an interview just after the discovery of the tomb, Alan Gardiner an English Egyptologist said, “Carter was a strange fellow in many ways but he had great gifts, he was little short of a genius in the practical mechanics of excavation and in the recording and preservation of fragile objects of antiquity.”
In another interview with Howard Carter soon after the historic event, Carter said, “I suppose most excavators would confess to a feeling of awe – embarrassment almost – when they break into a chamber closed and sealed by pious hands so many centuries ago. Thirty-three centuries had passed since human feet last trod the floor on which we stood and yet the signs of recent life were around us a half-filled bowl of Mortar, a blackened lamp the chips of wood left on the floor by the careless carpenter.”
Alan Gardiner said further” He had found the outer chamber of what was almost certainly an intact tomb of the Pharaoh the first ever found but only after every precaution had been taken to preserve the objects from the tomb would he consider opening the second chamber.
Carter added, “I carefully cut the cord remove the precious field drew back the bolt and open the door none of us but felt the solemnity of the occasion in dead silence the huge lid weighing over a ton and a quarter was raised from its daylight shone into the sarcophagus but how disappointing the contents were completely covered by linen shrouds but as the last round was rolled back a gospel wonderment escaped our lips so gorgeous was the sight that met our eyes golden energy of the young king of magnificent workmanship fill the whole of the interior.”
Lord Carnarvon tragically did not live to see the final result of the discovery that was to make a household name as he died less than six months after his discovery from an infected insect bite finally almost all of the tomb’s contents were cataloged removed stabilized and sent to the Cairo Museum where they are currently on public display Tutankhamun unique among all of Egypt’s ancient kings still rests in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
(Photo credit: Harry Burton, The Griffith Institute, Oxford. Colorized by Dynamichrome for the exhibition “The Discovery of King Tut” in New York).
Khilesh has been an evidence enthusiast and has been instrumental in bringing authentic news on geopolitics, environment, business, and conflicts. A post-graduate from University of Delhi, he understands the complexity of issues and diggs in deep to bring out the real issues to his readers.