discovery of Tutankhamun
Carter had a plan of the valley on which he marked all
the spoil heaps and cuttings made by previous excavations. On
this he identified a small triangle which was covered over with
the spoils from an earlier excavation. Carter thought it was possible
that the missing tomb could lie under the mound of ruble and stone
chippings and was determined to find out.
||The story of the hunt for the tomb of Tutankhamun is a long
and complicated one involving lots of detailed scientific research,
and even more luck.
Theodore Davis had long sought the tomb of the missing pharaoh,
who was mentioned in inscriptions. At one point a small hole
was discovered in the Valley of the Kings containing some storage
jars and flower garlands. The jars bore the name of Tutankhamun...
could this be a clue that there could still be an intact burial
in the royal valley ?
After several seasons of unsuccessful excavating Theodore Davis
decided there was nothing left to find in the Valley. Most people
believed him, but there was one man who thought he had an idea
where the missing tomb may be. His was a name which was to become
almost as famous as that of Tutankhamun himself, Howard Carter.
Carter's work in the valley was financed by Lord Carnarvon,who
was after objects for his personal collection. The expense involved
coupled with the lack of any finds had led to a decision to give
up looking. To his credit Howard Carter managed to persuade the
Lord to finance one more season of excavation, to clear the triangle.
The excavations began, and soon some workmens houses were uncovered,
anything under those would be untouched since the tombs in the
valley were cut. By an amazing stroke of luck when the first hut
was removed a stone step was uncovered, then another, and another
until a flight of steps was cleared leading to a door, a sealed
door. On this door were the marks of the necropolis guards, and
the cartouche of Tutankhamun.
Lord Carnarvon was sent for immediately, and upon his arrival
the tomb was opened, to reveal a corridor filled with rubble.
There were signs that a tunnel had been dug through one corner
of the rubble. This showed that the tomb had been robbed after
After the corridor was cleared another sealed door was uncovered.
This was the moment of truth... Howard Carter hammered a small
hole in the blocking wall and as his eyes became acustomed to
the darkness beyond he saw the 'wonderful things' which were
to change the face of Egyptology forever.
|These photographs show a reconstruction of the room which
Carter called the Antechamber. This is on display in the Tutankhamun
exhibition in the English town of Dorchester.
|This reconstruction show the moment Howard Carter removed
the outer coffin from the sarcophagus. At the time it was noticed
that the coffin was incredibly heavy, which should have gave
them a clue to the treasure which
awaited them when the outer coffin was opened.
At the time of the discovery there was a great deal of political
activity in Egypt, which led to a ban on the export of antiquities.
Lord Carnarvon, who was primarily a collector, was horrified
by this as he had invested a great deal of money in the search
for 'his' tomb.
A major incident which soured the relationship between the
archaeologists and the Egyptian government was the discovery
of this stunning head, which was found in a wine box in the tomb
used by Carter as a workshop. The authorities claimed it had
been deliberately hidden so it could be smuggled out of the country.
This argument was strengthened by the fact that the head had
not been given a catalogue number. Carter maintained that the
head was found while the entrance to the tomb was being cleared,
before the tomb itself was opened and he had just not got round
to cataloging it.
There are several objects discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun
which show clearly the state of flux which the country was in
during his short reign. Two examples are shown here, the goddesses
Isis and Selkis. The statues are in the more natural Amarna style,
but the images on the side of the shrine are in the more orthodox
This could possibly indicate that the statues were made much
earlier than the shrine, and are perhaps another example of Smenkhkare's funerary goods
which were reused.