Little Bits of History

Pharaoh Tutankhamen

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 4, 2014
Howard Carter and King Tut's coffin

Howard Carter and King Tut’s coffin

November 4, 1922: Howard Carter finds the entrance to King Tut’s tomb. Carter was born in London in 1874. His father was an artist and encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps. The child grew up among relatives in Swaffham, a market town of Norfolk. In 1891, when Carter was 17, he was sent to Egypt by the Egypt Exploration Fund to help Percy Newberry’s excavation of the Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan. Carter improved on the methods of copying tomb decorations and in the following years came under the tutelage of other Egyptologists. By 1899, Carter was made chief inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service and supervised a number of excavations at Thebes (now Luxor).

Pharaoh Tutankhamen ruled from about 1332 to 1323 BC. This was the 18th Dynasty. He was born around 1341 BC and died around the age of 18. He and his half-sister/cousin had two stillborn daughters. In Egyptian history, this period is called the New Kingdom. Various spellings of the Pharaoh’s name mean slightly different things – Tutankhaten means “Living Image of Aten” while Tutankhamun  means “Living Image of Amun”. Aten is the sun god also called Ra. Amun is a local deity of Thebes and is the king of the gods and god of the wind. Computed tomography of the two stillborn infants found no cause of death or congenital anomalies.

King Tut rose to power at the age of nine or ten. It is assumed that due to his young age, he was counseled by powerful advisers and it is assumed General Horemhab and Vizier Ay were among them. During Tut’s third reigning year, he reversed his father’s decree and returned worship to Amun rather than Aten and moved the capital back to Thebes abandoning the city of Akhataten. This is also when he changed his name. With the move, building projects in Thebes were begun as were several projects in Karnak. Many monuments were constructed as the inscription on the king’s tomb door attested. It told that the Pharaoh had ‘spent his life in fashioning the images of the gods”.

Finding a nearly intact tomb was rare. When Carter and Lord Carnarvon, George Herbert found the tomb in the Valley of the Kings, it renewed an interest in ancient Egypt and archeology. Finding the steps to tomb KV62 on this day was impressive. This was the last season Carter’s funds would remain and this gave both Carter and the world a chance to further study of the tombs. He sent a wire to Lord Carnarvon to come and they began their opening of the tomb on November 26 after the noble’s arrival. They finally opened a sealed doorway on February 16, 1923 and found the regal burial chamber and the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen. Carter died of lymphoma at the age of 64 and refuted the Curse of the Pharaohs, dying long after they “violated” King Tut’s tomb.

We were astonished by the beauty and refinement of the art displayed by the objects surpassing all we could have imagined – the impression was overwhelming.

All we have to do is to peel the shrines like an onion, and we will be with the king himself.

With such evidence, as well as the sealed doorway between the two guardian statues of the King, the mystery gradually dawned upon us. We were but in the anterior portion of a tomb.

They were of many types of seals, all bearing the insignia of the King. – all from Howard Carter

Also on this day: Symbolism – In 1899, Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams in Germany.
Chartists – In 1839, the Newport Uprising ended in bloodshed.
Erie Canal – In 1825, the “Wedding of the Waters” took place.
Nighty Night – In 1847, chloroform’s anesthetic properties were discovered.


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