Sunday, January 31, 2010

Feature: I discovered pharaoh's gold

The Guardian, UK (Paul Sussman)

In 1972, when I was six, my aunt took me to see the T­utankhamun exhibition at the British Museum. I've been hooked on Egypt and archaeology ever since – I spent most of my childhood looking for tombs in our garden in Watford.

Although I make my living as a writer and hold no formal ­archaeological qualification, I have worked on digs whenever I can and learned on the job. The one I'll ­always ­remember took place more than 10 years ago, working as a field ­archaeologist and diarist with a team digging in the Valley of the Kings.

I was part of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project and we spent four years excavating in the valley, around the tombs of T­utankhamun and Ramesses VI. As well as ­digging new ground, we were given ­permission to re-excavate a small existing tomb, KV56. I was in charge of this re-excavation.

Discovered in 1908 by English archaeologist Edward Ayrton, KV56 had yielded one of the most ­spectacular arrays of ­jewellery found in the valley, hence its ­nickname: the Gold Tomb.

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