On this day, November 4 in 1922, Howard Carter’s workmen discovered steps cut into the bedrock of the Valley of the Kings that would lead them down to the tomb of the long lost king Tutankhamun.
It took a monumental effort of will to rebury the steps for security and await the arrival of Carter's patron, Lord Carnarvon. It was a long two-and-a-half weeks before they could (officially) explore past the sealed door at the bottom of the steps. Some suspect that Carter actually had an early sneak peek through a hole in the door before the official opening before government officials and invited guests. Considering the enormity of what potentially lay on the other side of the door, I don't think anyone could really blame him. Carter devoted the next 10 years of his life to recording, preserving and clearing the burial goods of the young pharaoh.
Today marks the 93rd anniversary of one of archaeology's greatest ever discoveries. It is no coincidence that the date also celebrates the city of Luxor's National Day.
Recently Tutankhamun has enjoyed a flurry of headlines that he hasn't experienced since the 1920s. British Egyptologist, Dr. Nicholas Reeves, has advanced a remarkable proposal that Tutankhamun's tiny tomb is actually just the front part of a much larger tomb: that of the famous Queen Nefertiti. According to the theory, a painted false wall hides the rest of the tomb, including the Queen's undisturbed burial chamber.
Soon radar will be brought in to probe the supposed false wall and see if there is, in fact, a void behind the wall. Although there are a few who challenge Dr. Reeve's findings, most Egyptologists are cautiously hopeful.
Tutankahmun's tomb reopened on Sunday after a month-long closure to install new lighting, new wooden stairs and floors, and special ventilation that will help prevent sand entering the tomb. The king's mummy has also been moved from the tomb's Antechamber into a side room to help preserve the brittle body.
Pictured is Tutankhamun’s gilded outer coffin, first revealed in February 1924. This was the first of three such coffins contained one within another like a Russian Doll.
On the king's forehead are the ‘Two Ladies’, Wadjet and Nekhbet – the divine cobra of Lower Egypt and the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt.
Photo: Mike Nelson