Arts & Entertainment

Howard Carter’s notes, drawings revive Tutankhamun mania

By Guillermo Ximenis

Oxford, UK, Apr 13 (EFE).- When Howard Carter peered through a crack into the tomb of Tutankhamun one hundred years ago he became the first person in three millennia to set eyes on the treasures held within and sparked a new wave of Egyptology mania around the world.

“Can you see something?” George Herbert, the Earl of Carnarvon, the aristocrat who bankrolled the search for the tomb, asked Carter at the time. “Yes, wonderful things!” came the reply.

Carter was as adept at publicity as he was meticulous in recording his discoveries and left behind reams of documents, notes and drawings that he himself created during the excavation of the tomb, some of which is from Wednesday on display at the Western Library at the University of Oxford.

The showcase, on display until February next year, reconstructs the process of how Carter identified and excavated the best-preserved pharaonic tomb to date.

The opening of the tomb in November 1922 sparked a global craze for ancient Egypt that persists to this day and fueled new myths surrounding the figure of Tutankhamun.

Egyptologist Richard B. Parkinson, one of the academics behind the exhibition, told Efe that Carter was unrivaled in his ability to stir excitement around the discovery and gave the public what it wanted even if it did mean perpetuating certain stereotypes.

Carter was granted permission to excavate the Valley of the Kings in 1914. His predecessors had been stirring the sand for decades but had lost interest, believing there was nothing left to discover.

The British archaeologist, however, was certain that at least one tomb remained hidden.

Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon shot to fame after they sold the story of their discovery to The Times newspaper for a sum of 5,000 pounds at the time.

And while Carter complained in his diaries of the constant visits from authorities and reporters in the weeks that followed, he nonetheless relished the limelight and extracted artifacts one by one to keep the attention of the public aroused.

The discovery, one of the most renowned in archaeological history, straddled the line between scientific revelation and media spectacle.

Carter, who had no academic training in the field, surrounded himself with specialists and local Egyptian workers whose vital role is often forgotten in the accounts of Tutankhamun’s tomb discovery. EFE


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