Sunday, May 20, 2012

Howard Carter: "Miraculous," Misunderstood Man

National Geographic (Ker Than)

With a lovely Harry Burton photograph of Carter inspecting the coffins.  This was posted to coincide with Carter's birthday the week before last.

The King Tut find brought Carter overnight—and lasting—fame, but it was anything but a stroke of luck, experts say.

When talking about the tomb discovery, "everyone likes to use the phrase 'stumble upon,' and that always ticks me off a little bit," said Yale University Egyptologist John Darnell.

Carter spent decades as an archaeological excavator exploring burial sites in ancient Thebes (now Luxor) before finding the roughly 3,000-year-old resting place of Tutankhamen, Darnell pointed out. (Take an interactive tour of Tut's tomb.)

"Carter found [the tomb] in a methodical way ... He did all the necessary background work," he added. "He didn't simply look for the door of a tomb, but rather he went at it in a way that we would probably characterize today as a form of landscape archaeology.

"Carter really worked himself into the lives of ancient Egyptian necropolis workmen. He knew the hills, he knew the paths, he knew what happened when rainstorms hit the area"—allowing him to identify the most likely sites for finding long-buried tombs.

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