CAIRO – 4 November 2017: November 4 is King Tutankhamun day, named after the day his tomb was first discovered in 1922 in the Valley of Kings, leading to a monumental excavation of one of the world’s most famous historical figures.
Sir Howard Carter, British archaeologist and Egyptologist had made it his life’s quest to find the tomb of King Tutankhamun first. When Carter had begun work in Egypt in 1891, most of the documented Pharaohs had their tombs discovered. One, however, proved to be elusive; King Tutankhamun, whose resting place had yet to be found and who Egyptologists knew very little about.
With the end of World War I, Carter made it his goal to be the first to uncover the tomb of Tutankhamun. Carter had worked in Egypt for 31 years since he was 17, using his skills as an artist to copy inscriptions from walls. He would then become appointed inspector-general of monuments in Upper Egypt. In 1907 he started to work for George Herbert, the fifth earl of Carnarvon, who would aid him in his quest to uncover the lost tomb of Tutankhamun.
Carter was certainly dedicated, spending a massive amounts of money and time in order to track down where the tomb might lie. With Lord Carnarvon as his sponsor, they began working earnestly at excavating the Valley of Kings. Alas, even after five years of work, Carter wasn’t able to report back on anything substantial.
He refused to give up however, tirelessly working to fulfill his quest, and soon enough, Carter would be rewarded beyond his imagination.
The discovery of steps beneath the sand on November 1, 1922 was a breakthrough for Carter. At long last, his tireless search for Tutankhamun would finally bear fruit. Carter announced the discovery on November 6, and it took three weeks until he could begin work on excavating into the tomb. Workers exposed all of the steps and the sealed doorway into the tomb, which at one point had been broken in by tomb robbers but resealed again, leading to hope that the contents had not been plundered.
Carter finally entered on November 25, finding evidence of resealed holes but noting that it had likely been thousands of years since anyone had entered again. If anything remained in the tomb, it could have proved to be one of the grandest archaeological discoveries in all of history.
When Carter made a hole inside the sealed door and peeked inside, he was left astounded. Gold flooded his senses, and animal statues, rich perfumes, piles of ebony, childhood toys and the Pharaoh himself adorned the room alongside countless other treasures. It was a bounty of riches the likes of which he had never been seen before; Carter couldn’t have anticipated this finding in his wildest dreams.
The prize finding was Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus, made of stone and containing three layers of coffins nestled within each other, of which the final one was made of gold and held Tutankhamun’s body, which had lain undisturbed for 3,000 years. Much of the treasures here are now in possession of the Cairo museum, with Tutankhamun himself still resting within the Valley of Kings.