Tutankhamun’s tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings and is by far the best preserved royal tomb ever discovered. The tomb, which was thought to be left intact, was believed to be robbed twice. Even though this tomb revealed treasure beyond our imagination, it was modestly furnished compared to the pharaohs before and after Tutankhamun’s time.
This “humble” tomb had remained hidden for 3000 years and had eluded tomb robbers and flash floods for many centuries. With the odds stacked against finding this tomb, the discovery of this tomb was brought to light through Theodore M. Davis who was an American business man.
Davis was the first person to find items that led to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. His first clue came from a famous cache (a group of royal funerary objects from Tell el Amarna that were brought to Thebes to escape destruction). These items were hidden in a safe tomb, and according to the clay sealing of the cache, it was done by Tutankhamun himself. Some Egyptologists believe this royal cache was probably stored by tomb robbers who hoped to find the treasure later. Among these treasures, furniture that belonged to Tutankhamun was found there too. In addition, there were other clues that gave some insight to the existence of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
More clues were found inside a small pit in 1907. This pit provided seal impressions of Tutankhamun along with many embalming materials such as linen bags, natron, and broken pottery. These findings were overlooked and sent to New York where they underwent examination.
Theodore also discovered a faience cup with King Tut’s name upon it. Close to this cup and under a large piece of stone, Mr. Davis found fragments of gold foil with Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun (King Tut’s wife) inlaid upon it. These clues were disregarded by Davis. It wasn’t until later an Egyptologist, named Howard Carter, who worked with Davis during his excavations found the items to be very interesting.
After studying and examining these items, Carter was convinced that King Tut’s tomb lay inside the Valley of the Kings. Howard Carter quickly went to Lord Carnarvon, his long time friend, to finance his search for Tutankhamun’s tomb. Carnarvon reviewed the evidence and agreed that the tomb might still be there. They were given the concession to dig in 1914 but had to abandon the dig due to World War I.
After the war had died down they resumed the dig. Like Davis they turned up without Tutankhamun’s tomb and Carnarvon started to run low on funds. Carnarvon was ready to give up and abandon the project. Carter persisted that Tutankhamun ’s tomb had to be hidden, so he pleaded for one more season of digging. He promised Carnarvon if nothing turned up, he would pay for the dig himself. Carnarvon agreed and digging began again on November 1, 1921.
They began this project by digging close to Ramesses VI’s tomb. While there, the workers were told to remove an Ancient workman’s hut. As they took down this hut a step was found.
Carter quickly ordered the steps to be cleared of sand and debris and by noon the next day the doorway was revealed. This door was stamped with the seal of the royal necropolis. The Necropolis seal depicted Anubis standing above five defeated enemies. Carter quickly sent a telegram to Carnarvon which said, “At last have made wonderful discovery in valley; a magnificent tomb with seals intact; re-covered same for your arrival; congratulations.”
Carnarvon and his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, quickly left for Egypt to arrive in Alexandria on November 23rd. Once they reached the Archeological spot, they were met by Howard Carter and his assistant, A. R. Callender. They quickly removed the ruble from the 16 steps to show Carnarvon and his daughter the discovery. Both Lady Evelyn and Lord Carnarvon saw the royal stamp of Tutankhamun and the necropolis.
The next day Cater started to drill a hole into the plaster door. In the foreground, Carter, Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn, and Callender waited anxiously. Carter made the hole in the upper left-hand corner and started to chip away at the opening. As the hole became larger, it allowed him to peer inside. Carter held the candle into the darkness and permitted his eyes to adjust to the warm ancient air that exited the tomb. This air made the candle flicker.
The gold furniture became illuminated by the small candle. Carter stood frozen and looked with amazement. Lord Carnarvon who waited anxiously for any news quickly exclaimed, “Can you see anything?” Carter replied with, “Yes, wonderful things.”
They made the hole large enough to squeeze by and they all entered the tomb. They stepped carefully down into the first room. The air was warm and a faint smell of perfume and oil filled the air. To them, the tomb looked as if it had remained intact as the day it had been sealed. Carter held up the candle that flickered frantically as they moved about the tomb viewing all the objects. As the candle lit the room to a small glow, three animal couches were visible. As they searched about, Lady Evelyn turned her light to the left and a pile of broken chariots littered the room. Carter explained that tomb robbers had most probably thrashed the chariots in search of gold. At the end of the room and to their right two statuesque guards could be seen. They were life-sized statues of the king holding maces and staffs. With so much excitement they all agreed to explore more of the remaining tomb the next day.
The next day, Callender came prepared with electric lights and they were setup inside the tomb. This allowed the four of them to explore the tomb more freely.
The tomb was eventually excavated and heavily photographed and this excavation consumed many years of Carter’s life. He eventually died in 1939. Now its contents lay inside the Cairo Museum. The treasure toured the world during the 1970’s and the second tour began in 2005.