Howard Carter

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Howard Carter bigraphy, stories - Archaeologists

Howard Carter : biography

9 May 1874 – 2 March 1939

Howard Carter (9 May 18742 March 1939) was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist known for discovering the tomb of 14th-century BC pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Later work and death

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 that 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. 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 now 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"from the Wishing Cup of Tutankhamun and "O night, spread thy wings over me as the imperishable stars".cf the prayer to the Goddess Nut found on the lids of New Kingdom coffins: "O my mother Nut, spread yourself over me, so that I may be placed among the imperishable stars and may never die."

Tutankhamun’s tomb

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 (subsequently designated KV62), 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, and others in attendance, 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 seventeenth 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."Lord Carnarvon’s description, 10 December 1922, quoted in:

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.Wikipedia – French edition 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.