100 Years Ago Today The World Learned Of The Discovery Of King Tutankhamun’s Tomb

November 29, 1922 The World Is Told About The Discovery Of King Tut’s Tomb

Hussein Abdel Rasoul, a water boy for an archeological expedition came across something unusual. As he was swishing around sand to make bottles stay upright, he noticed the surface he had uncovered looked like a sculpted stone. It turned out to be a step. The first step leading to a blocked entryway.

Hussein the water boy wearing a scarab necklace found at King Tut’s excavation site

Hussein’s discovery occurred early in the morning of November 4, 1922 in the Valley of the Kings, just outside of Luxor, about 450 miles upstream of Cairo, Egpyt.

The expedition’s lead was archeologist Howard Carter who in the past had other significant finds under his direction. Carter was spending another year digging and looking for treasures, but without progress.

Hussein informed the excavation team of what he found. After they cleared the step, Carter arrived at the site at 10 a.m.. The team showed him the step and Carter became excited about what he was seeing.

After removing the surface gravel and debris, there was a sealed outer door. And beyond this, sixteen steps led down to a passage about 25 feet in length, at the end of which was another sealed door.

At this point Carter summoned his sponsor from England, George Edward Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, to come immediately.

On November 26, 1922 Carter and Lord Carnarvon were in position to see what was inside.

On opening this sealed door, the excavators found themselves in a chamber. After punching a hole in the chamber Carter peered inside and was asked by Lord Carnarvon, “can you see anything?” Carter’s famous oft-quoted reply, “Yes, wonderful things,” was actually, “Yes. It is wonderful,” according to his diary.

They had found the most important archeological discovery of the century. This was the tomb of  King Tutankhamun.

Original 1922 color photo of King Tutankhamun’s treasures, Beyond the wall in the background is the burial chamber.

Original 1922 photo showing sculptures, boxes and chests inside Tutankhamun’s tomb

On November 29, Carter announced the discovery to the Times of London and the world went Tut-crazy.

This is how the the Associated Press first reported the story in the United States:

Bejeweled Throne 3,272 Years Old
Found In Egypt By Excavators

Funeral Paraphernalia Of King Tutenkhamun Discovered
On Site Of Ancient Thebes By British Expert.

London, Nov. 29.—What is claimed to be the most sensational Egyptological discovery of the century was announced in a Cairo dispatch to the Times from the “Valley of the Kings,” on the site of ancient Thebes, near Luxor. A series of subterranean chambers has been explored and so far has disclosed the funeral paraphernalia of the Egyptian king Tutenkhumun, one of the heretic kings of the eighteenth dynasty, reigning about 1350 B. C.

The discovery was announced today by Lord Carnarvon, specially summoned from England by the explorer Howard Carter, who had been excavating at this place for seven years, but up to the present with little success.

In the royal necropolis of the Theban Empire, directly below the tomb of Rameses VI, a chamber was discovered which contained Tutenkhamun’s gem-studded throne. This is described as one of the most beautiful art objects ever found. The explorers also came upon exquisite carved gilt couches inlaid with ivory. Other furniture, a quantity of royal robes, some of them richly decorated, life-size statues and vases of the most intricate design, and the remains of large quantities of victuals for the dead.

Important papyri also were found, which are expected to clear up many important points relating to the eighteenth dynasty.

Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon outside the burial chamber

Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon under the watch of Egyptian officials began exploring what would turn out to be four chambers.

Lord Carnarvon would not be there for the ultimate unveiling of King Tut himself. Lord Carnarvon would die April 5, 1923 at the age of 56. Some believed he died as a result of the Mummy’s curse for disturbing King Tut’s tomb. He actually died from a severe mosquito bite which became infected by a razor cut. The official cause of death was blood poisoning and complications of pneumonia.

On February 12, 1924 Carter entered the fourth and final chamber, the  King’s burial chamber.

He was stunned to find the King’s intact sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The final coffin was of solid gold and contained the King’s mummy. Carter called it “the supreme and culminating moment.”

King Tutankhamun mask as seen when first discovered.

Howard Carter spent the next eight years exploring and cataloging King Tut’s tomb. More than 5,000 objects were recovered from the site.

King Tutankhamun and the discovery of his tomb still holds the public’s fascination. A touring exhibition attracts large crowds, offering proof that 100 years after the discovery King Tut still has a hold on us.

It is said by leading Egyptologists that less than ten percent of Egypt’s ancient artifacts have been found. But the odds of finding such a complete archeological record greater than King Tut’s tomb seems remote at best. But archeologists still dream of finds like Carter’s. And that’s why they will keep looking.The next great discovery is maybe just a step away.

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