Over the past century, excavators had declared there was nothing left to find in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, Howard Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, spent a number of years and a lot of money searching for a tomb they weren’t sure existed. In November 1922, they found it. They had discovered not just an unknown ancient Egyptian tomb, but one that had lain nearly undisturbed for over 3,000 years. What lay within astounded the world.
King Tutankhamen was enthroned in 1333 B.C. when he was still a child. He died at the age of 18 and thus made only a faint impression on the history of ancient Egypt. In the 13th century B.C., Tutankhamen and the other “Amarna” kings were publicly condemned, and most records of them were destroyed–including the location of Tutankhamen’s tomb.
Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. In addition to numerous pieces of jewelry and gold, there was statuary, furniture, clothes, a chariot, weapons, and numerous other objects that shed a brilliant light on the culture and history of ancient Egypt. The most splendid find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, made out of solid gold, was the mummified body of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for 3,200 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum.
The discovery of King Tut’s tomb created an obsession around the world. Ancient Egyptian style clothes quickly hit the markets and appeared in fashion magazines. Even architecture was affected when Egyptian designs were copied into modern buildings. Lord Carnarvon became suddenly ill from an infected mosquito bite on his cheek. On April 5, 1923, within a week of the bite, Lord Carnarvon died. Just as quickly, newspapers were filled with the “news” of a curse. In all, it took Howard Carter and his colleagues ten years to document and clear out Tutankhamun’s tomb. After Carter completed his work at the tomb in 1932, he began to write a six-volume definitive work, A Report upon the Tomb of Tut ‘ankh Amun. Unfortunately, Carter died before he was able to finish.