Howard Carter

Howard Carter

Howard Carter was born on  May 9 1874.

He was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist who became world-famous after discovering the intact tomb of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, Tutankhamun in November 1922.

He died on 2 March 1939.

Howard Carter (kneeling), an Egyptian workman, and Arthur Callender at doors of burial shrines in Pharao Tutankhamen’s tomb - public domain - The New York Times photo archive.
Howard Carter (kneeling), an Egyptian workman, and Arthur Callender at doors of burial shrines in Pharao Tutankhamen’s tomb – public domain – The New York Times photo archive.

Expert

In 1907 Lord Carnarvon approached Gaston Maspero seeking advice in finding an expert to head his planned archaeological expedition to the Valley of the Kings. Maspero recommended Howard Carter.

Lord Carnarvon financed Carter’s work until 1914 when excavations  were interrupted by the First World War. Carter resumed his work following the end of the War. On 4 November 1922, Carter’s excavation group found steps that Carter hoped led to Tutankhamun‘s tomb. On 26 November 1922, Carter made a “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway, with Carnarvon and his daughter Lady Evelyn Herbert in attendance.He was able use a candle to peer inside and see many of the gold and ebony treasures still in place.

On 16 February 1923, Carter opened the sealed doorway that lead to the burial chamber containing the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. Clearing and cataloging the tomb continued until 1932. Carter retired from archaeology and became a part-time agent for collectors and museums.

TV drama

The story has been turned into a TV drama starring Max Irons, Sam Neill and Jonathan Aris. It was written by Guy Burt for ITV.

“It’s based on true events and reveals how Carter desperately tries to persuade his patron (Carnarvon) to continue to bankroll the excavation” said Catherine Oldfield, executive producer. “Ultimately it’s the story of what happens when you stake everything on one last roll of the dice.”

This lavish production has been accused of  inaccuracies, such as portraying Howard Carteras a dashing heroic ladies man when in real life he was a crusty archaeologist who never married. That aside it is a wonderfully acted real-life adventure.

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