November 4, 1922: Howard Carter discovers King Tut’s tomb
On this day in 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter had all but given up on finding the tomb of King Tutankhamen. But then he stepped on a platform covered in sand, and history was made.
A sickly child
Carter was born in in 1874 in Kensington, England, and turned out to be a sickly child. Due to his frail nature, he was homeschooled for much of his life. It was during that time that he traveled to the Norfolk town of Swaffham, the birthplace of his parents.
While there, he visited nearby Didlington Hall–a local mansion containing a sizable collection of Egyptian antiques. His passion for the culture was awakened upon first glance, and he found his way to Egypt by the tender age of 17.
An unwavering passion
By the time Carter arrived in Egypt, most of the ancient tombs had already been discovered. Still, he could not be dissuaded. The final resting place of King Tutankhamen had yet to be found, and he was going to discover it.
Starting out as a painter, he quickly worked his way up to archaeologist under the tutelage of Flinders Petrie. By the age of 25, he was appointed Inspector General of Monuments for Upper Egypt by the Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service.
Around 1908, he was introduced to Lord Carnarvon–the man who would change his life.
The discovery of a lifetime
Under Carnarvon’s sponsorship, Carter began to excavate. By 1914, he had secured several valuable antiques but had yet to hit the jackpot.
Years and years went by until Lord Carnarvon gave up hope and returned to England. Carter, however, could not be deterred and he begged his sponsor for one more chance.
On November 1, 1922, Howard Carter made the discovery of a lifetime. Only three days after starting back on the job, he stepped onto a platform he discovered while clearing away debris. It turned out to be the first step of a sunken staircase, leading into an unknown tomb.
After a slow and meticulous excavation, workers discovered the intact royal seals of King Tutankhamun. It would be 15 full days until Lord Carnarvon arrived back on the scene, but when he did, they experienced the moment they both had been waiting for: a small hole was made in the sealed doorway, and they viewed the world of hidden treasures inside.