Sunday, May 13, 2012

Remembering Carter: The man who found King Tut's tomb

Ahram Online (Nevine el-Aref)

With three B&W photos.

When Howard Carter left his home in Kensington in London at the tender age of 17, abandoning a career in his family business to join the Egypt Exploration Fund as an illustrator, he didn’t know that he would fall under the spell of Egypt and its ancient treasures.

At Beni Hassan archaeological site, Carter began his career as a tracer, copying scenes from the walls of the tombs of royal princesses for further study. He worked with pioneer Egyptologists at the time, and succeeded in recording the wall reliefs in Queen Hatshepsut’s temple at El-Deir El-Bahari on Luxor’s west bank.

Carter learned the nascent science of Egyptology from William Flinders Petrie, and, during his training courses at Tel Al-Amarna, he unearthed several important artefacts.

He then continued his training under Gaston Maspero, and in 1894 at the age of 25 he became the first inspector-general of monuments for Upper Egypt. In 1905, he was forced to resign from the post following an incident between Egyptian guards at Saqqara and a handful of drunken French tourists.

Seeking private funding for excavation work, Carter became supervisor of excavations for Lord Carnarvon V, who owned one of the most valuable collections of Egyptian artefacts in private hands at the time. Carter succeeded in discovering six tombs in the Valley of the Kings on Luxor's west bank, but was obsessed with finding the tomb of a relatively unknown Pharaoh named Tutankhamen.

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