Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2011

Howard Carter and his Egyptian find

November 26, 1922: Howard Carter and his financial backer, Lord Carnavon, peer inside KV62. Egypt’s Valley of the Kings was used for 500 years as a burial site for royalty of the 16th through 11th centuries BC. The 18th through the 20th Dynasties used this site primarily for burying their kings. It lies on the west bank of the Nile River across from Thebes (modern-day Luxor). The official name in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, or more often, Ta-sekhet-ma’at (the Great Field).

The early 18th Dynasty buried only their kings in large tombs with non-royals laid to rest in small rock chambers. Some of the 18th Dynasty kings were buried at Amarna, on the east side of the river. By the end of the Dynasty, there was a return to religious orthodoxy and the west side of the river. The 19th and 20th Dynasties increased the number of people buried in the Valley of the Kings and also in the Valley of the Queens.

The site was known in ancient times as the burial grounds for kings and hence a location to plunder riches. Greek writers Strabo (1st century BC) and Diodorus Siculus (1st century AD) stated that there were 47 royal tombs in the area with 17 of them believed to have been undisturbed. Before the 1700s travel to Thebes from Europe was difficult and expensive. In fact, geography deficient Europeans often confused Thebes with Memphis.

The 1800s saw a boom in exploration of the area. In 1827 John Gardiner Wilkinson was assigned to paint the entryways to all known tombs and designated them KV1 to KV21 with the KV standing for KingsValley. More tombs were later discovered and KV62 was thought to have been undisturbed when found in 1922, but it was entered at least twice not long after the king was first buried there. It is thought that about 60% of the jewelry was stolen. Necropolis officials recovered the jewels and quickly placed them back in the tomb, often packed in the wrong cases. When Carter peered inside in 1922 he was stunned by the majesty and vast treasures hidden in King Tut’s tomb.

“Archaeology is the peeping Tom of the sciences. It is the sandbox of men who care not where they are going; they merely want to know where everyone else has been.” – Jim Bishop

“Evidence doesn’t lie. History may be accurate, but archaeology is precise.” – Doug Scott

“An archaeologist is someone whose career lies in ruins.” – unknown

“Those were the great days of excavating… anything to which a fancy was taken, from a scarab to an obelisk, was just appropriated, and if there was a difference with a brother excavator, one laid for him with a gun.” – Howard Carter

Also on this day:
Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.

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