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Carter finds King Tut’s tomb

This Day in World History

November 4, 1922

Carter finds King Tut’s tomb

Howard Carter

For years, archeologist Howard Carter had poked and probed in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, hoping to repeat the success he had enjoyed in 1902, when he discovered the tombs of the pharaohs Hapshetsut and Thutmose IV. On November 4, 1922, he discovered his first sign of his greatest success. His crews had been digging among a cluster of ancient stone huts that had housed Egyptian workers thousands of years before. In the morning of Saturday, November 4, Carter found an ancient step. Further investigation revealed it was part of downward stairway similar to that used in other tombs of the XVIII Dynasty of ancient Egypt. By the next day, enough stone rubble had been cleared for Carter to descend that stairway. There, when he reached the first door, he found a thrilling sight—the doorway of a sealed tomb, meaning its contents would be untouched, and with marks indicating it was a royal tomb.

Golden bust of King Tut

While Carter was energized by the find, it took nearly three weeks for his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, to arrive on the scene so that work could resume. On November 26, the archeologist finally reached is goal, the inner door that opened into the royal tomb. Drilling a hole in the doorway and using a candle for light, Carter beheld a “strange and wonderful medley of extraordinary and beautiful objects heaped upon one another”—the intact royal treasures of King Tutankhamen, who had died at nineteen in 1323 BCE.

Carter spent several years completing the work on the tomb, one of the most famous archaeological finds in history. The treasures from the tomb of King Tutankhamen are now permanently on display in the Cairo Museum in Egypt, though they have been sent at various times on exhibitions around the world.

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