February 16th, 1923 – The Tomb of Tutankhamun

Today-In-History

On February 16th, 1923English archaeologist Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Howard Carter Tutankhamun 680

In 1907, Lord Carnarvon employed Carter to supervise Carnarvon’s Egyptian excavations in the Valley of the Kings. The intention of Gaston Maspero, who introduced the two, was to ensure that Howard Carter imposed modern archaeological methods and systems of recording.

Carnarvon financed Carter’s work in the Valley of the Kings to 1914, but until 1917 excavations and study were interrupted by the First World War. Following the end of the First World War, Carter aggressively resumed his work.

Howard_carter

Howard Carter (May 9th, 1874 – March 2nd, 1939)

After several years of finding little, Lord Carnarvon became dissatisfied with the lack of results, and in 1922 informed Carter that he had one more season of funding to search the Valley of the Kings and find the tomb.

On November 4th, 1922, Howard Carter’s excavation group found steps that Carter hoped led to Tutankhamun‘s tomb (subsequently designated KV62) (the tomb that would be considered the best preserved and most intact pharaonic tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings).

He wired Lord Carnarvon to come, and on November 26th, 1922, with Carnarvon, Carnarvon’s daughter and others in attendance, Carter made the “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway (with a chisel his grandmother had given him for his 17th birthday.) He was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place. He did not yet know whether it was “a tomb or merely a cache”, but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked “Can you see anything?”, Carter replied with the famous words: “Yes, wonderful things!”

The next several months were spent cataloging the contents of the antechamber under the “often stressful” supervision of Pierre Lacau, director general of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt. On 16 February 16th, 1923, Carter opened the sealed doorway, and found that it did indeed lead to a burial chamber, and he got his first glimpse of the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of these discoveries were eagerly covered by the world’s press, but most of their representatives were kept in their hotels; only H. V. Morton was allowed on the scene, and his vivid descriptions helped to cement Carter’s reputation with the British public.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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