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Hunting in the marshes 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 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.

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 all.

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. Antechamber

Opening th coffin
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.

The controversial lotus head

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 style.

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.


The Complete Tutankhamun



Akhenaten : King of Egypt


The Chronicle of the Pharaohs