February 16, 1923: Howard Carter opens the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt. Carter used modern archeological methods and meticulous recording of data. He was financed by Lord Carnavon. The tomb’s official name is KC62. It’s located with other tombs for Pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt – the Eighteenth through Twentieth Dynasties. The Valley contains 64 tombs dating from 1539 BC to 1075 BC.
Tutankhamun began his reign at the age of nine with help from vizier Ay. Ay was born a commoner but rose in power to advise at least one other, and possibly two, pharaohs. After Tutankhamun’s death, Ay rose to the throne. Tutankhamun was a minor ruler and reigned for about ten years. In that time, he lifted a ban on worshiping the old pantheon of gods and reopened their temples.
Carter speculated on the cause of death of the boy king. A hole was found at the base of his skull and it was thought that Tutankhamun may have been murdered. Finally, in 2005, after taking over 1,700 images with a CT scan, it was decided that King Tut had succumbed to a case of rapidly spreading gangrene from a broken leg.
The Treasures of Tutankhamun contained 55 objects from the tomb including the famous gold funeral mask and is one of the best known exhibitions in the world. The exhibition was in London’s British Museum in 1972. Between 1976 and 1979, it went on a US tour and was shown in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City and San Francisco before returning to England. While on display in America, more than 8 million people went to see the artifacts discovered in the tomb. It also inspired a song by Steve Martin.
“All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance; it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united with canals.” – Samuel Johnson
“It’s very important to reveal the mystery of the pyramid. Science in archaeology is very important. People all over the world are waiting to solve this mystery,” – Zahi Hawass
“The overseer of the unskilled peasants who dragged stone for the pyramids did not concern himself with morale or motivation,” – Peter F. Drucker
“The pharaohs didn’t lift a finger. That’s king and queen. Mrs. Pharaoh’s fingernails were as immaculately manicured as Elizabeth Taylor’s in Cleopatra. Who built the pyramids? Anonymous slaves down through the centuries.” – Studs Terkel
Also on this day, in 1937 nylon was patented by Dr. Wallace Carothers