Wednesday, January 20, 2010

General news: the Legacy of Howard Carter

Free Internet Press

Howard Carter, the British explorer who opened the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, will forever be associated with the greatest trove of artifacts from ancient Egypt. But was he also a thief?

Dawn was breaking as Howard Carter took up a crowbar to pry open the sealed tomb door in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. With shaking hands, he held a candle to the fissure, now wafting out 3,300-year-old air. What did he see, those behind him wanted to know. The archaeologist could do no more than stammer, "Wonderful things!"

This scene from Thebes in November, 1922, is considered archaeology's finest hour. Howard Carter, renowned as the "last, greatest treasure seeker of the modern age," had arrived at his goal.

Carter obtained about 5,000 objects from the four burial chambers, including furniture, jars of perfume, flyswatters, and ostrich feathers - the whole place was a dream of jasper, lapis lazuli, and turquoise. He even discovered a ceremonial staff adorned with beetles' wings.

The "unexpected treasures," as Carter described them, suddenly brought to light an Egyptian king previously almost unknown - Tutankhamun, born approximately 1340 B.C., who ascended the throne as a child.

The man responsible for discovering King Tut's tomb may have deceived Egyptian authorities to steal treasured relics for himself, experts say.

British explorer Howard Carter discovered the Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 in one of the world's most famous archaeological finds, but may have systematically removed objects without authorization, Der Spiegel reported Sunday.

Carter had intended the contents of the tomb to go to England and the United States, but Egypt refused, insisting all artifacts remain in the country. Thwarted, Carter and his team then secretly helped themselves to many of the relics, some of which ended up in museums outside Egypt, the newspaper said.

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