At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold...I was struck dumb with amazement, and when asked 'Can you see anything?', it was all I could do to get out the words 'Yes, wonderful things'.
...with these words, Howard Carter stepped into the tomb of Tutankhamun, the date was 26 November, 1922.
Howard Carter (1874-1939) began work as an artist at the age of seventeen, copying paintings on the walls of the rock-cut tombs at Beni-Hassan for the British Egyptologist Francis Griffith. At the age of 18, in 1892, Carter had his first taste of excavation, under the direction of Flinders Petrie at el-Amarna, the short lived capital of upper Egypt. He began his professional career with the Egyptian Antiquities Service in 1899 and worked in similar capacities until 1905 when he resigned in a dispute over his ejection of some French tourists.
Now faced with negligible employment prospects, Carter was lucky enough to meet George Herbert, the fifth earl of Carnarvon (1866-1923), an immensely rich English aristocrat, with a passion for archaeology. Together, Carter and Carnarvon excavated in the private cemetaries on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, extending their work to the Nile delta in 1912-13.
In 1914 they began work in the Valley of the Kings. Carter began work on the tombs of Amenhotep III and Hatchepsut, but by 1917 he was focused on the search for just one tomb, that of Tutankhamun. Thanks to the funding by his friend Lord Carnarvon, and his on fortitude, Carter searched for an undaunted six more years. Finally going to the only remaining undug area on the valley floor, a small triangle in front of the tomb of Ramesses VI, Carter began excavating on November 1, 1922. Three days later Carter found the first rock-cut step leading to Tutankhamun's tomb. The following day, he located the plastered blocking to the tomb and called Carnarvon in England to relay the news. Finally on November 26, Carter now accompanied by his friend, entered the tomb.The rest is history.
Four months later, Lord Carnarvon died in Cairo of Pneumonia following a mosquito bite. The "curse of Tutankhamun" was born. Carter died peacefully sixteen years later in his London apartment.
* Tutankhamun is also spelled Tutankhamen...I used the preferred spelling of the one already archived in this database...