Today in 1922, the tomb of child pharaoh, Tutankhamun situated near Luxor, Egypt was opened by English archeologist Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon who helped finance Carters excavations in Egypt.
It is thought that the tomb is a rare discovery as it had not been found and robbed by tomb raiders over the 3000 years since the boy kings mysterious and sudden death.
George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon, who’s family estate is Highclear, the stately home used as the back drop to the ITV Series Downton Abbey, still houses some the artefacts from the tomb. Something that Julian Fellowes, the writer of Downton nodded towards as he named the Lord of Grantham’s dogs after Egyptian goddesses.
“At last have made wonderful discovery in Valley; a magnificent tomb with seals intact; re-covered same for your arrival; congratulations”
On November 23rd, Lord Carnarvon and his daughter, Lady Evelyn with Carter, helped by the workmen to unveiled the tomb to the Lord and his daughter.
Finally on 26th November the last door at the end of a passage had a hole made in it so Carter could put a candle in to illuminate the chamber in order to see what may lie behind the door. Here is what he says in his own words:
‘At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, “Can you see anything?” it was all I could do to get out the words, “Yes, wonderful things.”
It took Carter and the group of archaeologists 10 years to empty and document all the items that were buried with the King. Sadly his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon would not live to see all these riches.
Lord Carnarvon became suddenly ill from an infected mosquito bite on his cheek that he aggravated by shaving. On April 5, 1923, Lord Carnarvon died. The popular press of the time claimed that Carnarvon had fallen foul of king Tuts curse for entering his tomb.
The treasures of Tutankhamun have been iconic and represent for many of us Egyptology. As much of the Middle East’s historic treasures and heritage is being destroyed, I for one am glad that brave men like Carter and his sponsor Lord Carnarvon, looked for this lost history so that the world can see it and learn from it. One day I hope to go to Cairo to see it for myself.
Please note the Images used are NOT mine