The Forgotten Archaeologist Who Found King Tut's Tomb
King Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut and the "Boy King." His wife was Ankesenamun, who was also his half-sister. They had the same father, but her mother was Nefertiti. His parents were brother and sister.
Added to the incest, as was typical back then, his father, Pharaoh Akhenaten, was also his uncle, and his mother was also his mother-in-law. King Tut married when he was eight years old, and his wife was thirteen years old.
Probably due to the family incest, archaeological evidence shows he had a club foot, cleft palate, curved spine, a broken leg that made him walk with a cane. His leg had been infected from his injury. This is believed to be the cause of his death.
King Tut and his wife had twin daughters born stillborn, and it is believed the two infant mummies found in his tomb were his daughters.
After Tut died, his wife was told she had to marry her grandfather and so she sent a letter to the Hittite king requesting he sends one of his sons for her to marry. The king complied, but his son was murdered at the Egyptian border, and Ankhesenamun had no choice but to marry her grandfather. Somehow she disappeared between 1325 to 1321 B.C.
King Tutankhamun's Discovery of His Tomb
Howard Carter was born 9 May 1874 in London to Samuel John Carter and Martha Joyce Carter. Howard was a sickly child, but his father, an artist, taught him the beauty of art. A neighbor of the Carters, the Amherst family, had a collection of Egyptian antiques that sparked young Carter to learn all he could of Egyptian art.
In 1891 Carter was sent by the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF) to assist an Amgerst family friend, Percy Newberry, to excavate and record the Middle Kingdom Tombs at Beni Hasan. Between the years 1894 and 1899, Carter worked and recorded reliefs in the Temple of Hatshepsut.
By 1899 he was appointed Chief Inspector of Egyptian Antiquities (EAS), the in 1904, he was appointed Inspector of Lower Egypt. After some confrontation between Egyptian guards and some French tourists, he resigned from his post.
In 1914, Lord Carnarvon was granted permission to dig in the Valley of the Kings. Years went by, and Lord Carnarvon was becoming frustrated at the lack of significant findings. Carter convinced him to try one more season.
In November 1922, a young boy stumbled on a stone that, when uncovered, led to steps. Carter found a doorway and sent a telegram to Carnarvon, who immediately came to the site arriving in two weeks.
On 26 November 1922, Carter made a slit in the door and peeked I. Carnarvon asked him, "Can you see anything?" Carter's answer was, "Yes, I see wonderful things."
The enormous gold, jewels, and gold sarcophagus took the world by surprise. This discovery would become the twentieth century's greatest find. It would take months to catalog the certificates. King Tut's tomb turned out to be the best-preserved and intact tomb ever found.
Some of the important ancient artifacts traveled the world on display hundreds to see. Media and newspapers carried the story for some time.
Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvons
Treasurers of King Tut's Tomb
Egyptian Museum of Cairo
After years of illustrating and cataloging, most of the treasures were taken to the Egyptian Museum of Cairo. Yet with this magnificent discovery, Carter received no honor from the British Government. All of his years of archaeology and studying hieroglyphs left him out of the public. The Egyptian Government took possession of the contents of the tomb valued at 2,000,000 with no regard to the vast sums Lord Carnarvon had spent on searching for the grave. Later, Lord Carnarvon's heirs were paid a small pittance of 35,000.
He did go on to author several books on Egypt and became a part-time agent for collectors and museums, including Cleveland Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts. He toured Britain, France, Spain, and the United States.
Carter died 2bMarch 1939 at his London flat next to the Royal Albert Hall of Hodgkins Disease. He is buried in Putney Vale Cemetary, London. There were very few visitors at his burial.
On his marker are the words, "May your spirit live, may you spend millions of years, you who love the Thebes, sitting with your face to the north winds, your eyes beholding happiness."
Egypt Museum, Cairo, Egypt
Egypt Museum, Cairo
There are over 120,000 items on display in the extensive museum, especially Egyptian antiquities. In 2020, it is to be superseded by the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. Interestingly, in the Memorial Garden, there is no mention of Howard Carter.