Call of Cthulhu : Tutankhamen's Tomb
Howard Carter (9 May 1874 – 2 March 1939) was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist who became world famous after discovering the intact tomb of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, Tutankhamun (colloquially known as “King Tut” and “the boy king”) in November 1922.
Howard Carter was born in Kensington , on the 9 of May 1874 and the son of Samuel Carter, an artist, and Martha Joyce Carter (née Sands). His father trained and developed Howard’s artistic talents.
Howard Carter spent much of his childhood with relatives in the Norfolk market town of Swaffham, the birthplace of both his parents.12 Nearby was the mansion of the Amherst family, Didlington Hall, containing a magnificent collection of Egyptian antiques, which sparked Carter’s interest in that subject. In 1891, the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF) sent Carter to assist an Amherst family friend, Percy Newberry, in the excavation and recording of Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan.
Although only 17, Carter was innovative in improving the methods of copying tomb decoration. In 1892, he worked under the tutelage of Flinders Petrie for one season at Amarna, the capital founded by the pharaoh Akhenaten. From 1894 to 1899, he worked with Édouard Naville at Deir el-Bahari, where he recorded the wall reliefs in the temple of Hatshepsut.
In 1899, Carter was appointed to the position of Chief Inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service (EAS). He supervised a number of excavations at Thebes (now known as Luxor). In 1904, he was transferred to the Inspectorate of Lower Egypt. Carter was praised for his improvements in the protection of, and accessibility to, existing excavation sites,3 and his development of a grid-block system for searching for tombs. The Antiquities Service also provided funding for Carter to head his own excavation projects and during this period Carter discovered the Tombs of Thutmose I and Thutmose III, although both tombs had been robbed of treasures long before.4
Carter resigned from the Antiquities Service in 1905 after a formal inquiry into what became known as the Saqqara Affair, a noisy confrontation between Egyptian site guards and a group of French tourists. Carter sided with the Egyptian personnel.5
In 1907, after three hard years for Carter, Lord Carnarvon employed him to supervise Carnarvon’s Egyptian excavations in the Valley of the Kings.6 The intention of Gaston Maspero, who introduced the two, was to ensure that Howard Carter imposed modern archaeological methods and systems of recording.78
KV62 in the Valley of the Kings
Carnarvon financed Carter’s work in the Valley of the Kings to 1914, but until 1917 excavations and study were interrupted by the First World War. Following the end of the First World War, Carter aggressively resumed his work.
After several years of finding little, Lord Carnarvon became dissatisfied with the lack of results, and in 1922 informed Carter that he had one more season of funding to search the Valley of the Kings and find the tomb.9
On 4 November 1922, Howard Carter’s excavation group found steps that Carter hoped led to Tutankhamun’s tomb (subsequently designated KV62) (the tomb that would be considered the best preserved and most intact pharaonic tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings).
He wired Lord Carnarvon to come, and on 26 November 1922, with Carnarvon, Carnarvon’s daughter and others in attendance, Carter made the “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway (with a chisel his grandmother had given him for his 17th birthday.) He 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 did not yet know 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!”10
Carter’s house in the Theban Necropolis
The next several months were spent cataloging the contents of the antechamber under the “often stressful” supervision of Pierre Lacau, director general of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt.11 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, and his vivid descriptions helped to cement Carter’s reputation with the British public.
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.12