Howard Carter was an English artitect and archaeologist that worked for the metropolitan mueseum in London. During a flood at night, Carter went to the temple of Thebes to record the drawing and hieroglyphics. The next morning, Carter left the temple and started his ride home but something happened that had changed his life forever. His horse tripped over a step that led to a tomb and he knew how important that this moment was for him. He kept it a secret till he got to his closest friend Theodore Davis.
He agreed to help Carter and the excavation and would pay the permit to dig. In the 1900s, the tomb was dug out. Davis always liked to put on a show for the people to announce anything that he found and always invited the most richest people in the world to see. When the tomb wall was broken through, it was empty. Davis went at Carter saying that he was made a fool and that Carter was a bigger fool. After a few years, Carter still went back to his usual work such as painting and recording down all the hieroglyphics and paintings.
After three hard years, Carter was employed by Lord Carnarvon to supervise his excavations from 1907. The intention of Gaston Maspero, who introduced the two, was to ensure that Carter imposed modern archaeological methods and systems of recording.
Carnarvon financed Carter’s work in the Valley of the Kings from 1914, but it was interrupted by World War I until 1917, when serious work was resumed. After several years of fruitless searching, Carnarvon became dissatisfied with the lack of results and, in 1922, he gave Carter one more season of funding to find the tomb he was searching for.
On 4 November 1922, Howard Carter’s excavation group found the steps leading to Tutankhamun’s tomb, by far the best preserved and most intact pharaonic tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings. He wired Carnarvon to come, and on 26 November 1922, with Carnarvon, Carnarvon’s daughter. Carter made the “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway, and was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place. He made the breach into the tomb with a chisel his grandmother had given him for his birthday. He did not yet know at that point whether it was “a tomb or merely a cache”, but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked “can you see anything?”, Carter replied with the famous words: “Yes, wonderful things.”
The next several months were spent cataloging the contents of the antechamber under the “often stressful” oversight of Pierre Lacau, director general of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt. On 16 February 1923, Carter opened the sealed doorway, and found that it did indeed lead to a burial chamber, and he got his first glimpse of the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of these discoveries were eagerly covered by the world’s press, but most of their representatives were kept in their hotels. Only H. V. Morton was allowed on the scene.
Carter’s own notes and photographic evidence, indicate that he, Lord Carnarvon and Lady Evelyn Herbert entered the burial chamber shortly after the tomb’s discovery and before the official opening.
The clearance of the tomb with its thousands of objects continued until 1932. Following his sensational discovery, Howard Carter retired from archaeology and became a part-time agent for collectors and museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts. He visited the United States in 1924, and gave a series of illustrated lectures in New York City and other cities in the United States. They were attended by very large and enthusiastic audiences, sparking Egyptomania in America.
He died of lymphoma in Kensington, London, on 2 March 1939 at the age of 64 and his funeral was poorly attended. The archaeologist’s natural death so long after the opening of the tomb, despite being the leader of the expedition, is the piece of evidence most commonly put forward by sceptics to refute the idea of a “curse of the pharaohs” plaguing the party that might have “violated” Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Carter is buried in Putney Vale Cemetery in London. On his gravestone is written: “May your spirit live, May you spend millions of years, You who love Thebes, Sitting with your face to the north wind, Your eyes beholding happiness” and “O night, spread thy wings over me as the imperishable stars”.
Howard Carter’s Grave Stone