The Archeological Discovery of the Century – Tutankhamun’s Tomb

Tutankhamun’s famous burial mask
© Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

On November 26, 1922, Archeologist Howard Carter together with the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, opened the unharmed tomb of pharao Tutankhamun, one of the most important archeological discoveries of the 20th century.

King Tut, as the Egyptian pharaoh of the ‘New Kingdom’ was called in popular culture, ruled between 1332 BC and 1323 BC. When the prince, back then called Tutankhaten became king, he was only ten years old, nevertheless he brought many changed to his folks against his father’s wishes, who had replaced the traditional religion. Tutankhaten, for instance, restored the worship of the god Amun, changed the capital or abandoned others from the dominion. It did not take long until the young king changed his name to Tutankhamun, as an illustration of dissociation from his father’s ideals and politics. But unfortunately, the king was not allowed to reign more than nine years since he died at the age of 19 under unclear circumstances. It was widely known that he suffered many health issues but the actual reason for his death is unknown up to this date even though scientists from all over the world have researched for several decades now.

The story of Tuthankamen’s tomb discovery began already in 1907. Theodore M. Davis had just discovered the tomb of the pharaoh Horemheb, who depicted the last one of the 18th dynasty and therefore ruled after Tutankhamun. However, Davis also discovered several artifacts with king Tut’s name and assumed to have found his entire tomb. It was about one decade later, when the experienced Howard Carter, Egyptologist and archeologist was given the task to perfom several excavations by Lord Carnarvon. The first thing found by a crew member was a step leading to another and another. The team was excited and called for Carnarvon, who instantly came and made his way together with Carter through a door into an empty room. Knowing that there must be a secret door, Carter managed to find it and revealed a chamber filled with treasures, statues and most important, Tutankhamun’s tomb. Carter’s first impressions were stated as following:

“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…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.”

The tomb was seen by the Carter and his employer for the first time in 3000 years and also the pharaoh’s sarcophagus was opened with only one journalist allowed to participate. It then took eight years from the date of its discovery to remove carefully all objects from the tomb for investigations and exhibitions. The tomb remains the most famous of all times due to the fact that its contents were held almost perfectly intact for 3000 years.

At yovisto you can learn more about the pharao Tutankhamun and his relics in the presentation of Nicholas Reeves at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Arts about ‘Behind the Mask of Tutankhamun‘.

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