Unremarkable Ruler Who Fired Millions of Imaginations Revealing New Research

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), April 19, 2005 | Go to article overview

Unremarkable Ruler Who Fired Millions of Imaginations Revealing New Research


A MINOR pharaoh in the great span of ancient Egypt, Tutankhamun, the boy ruler, owes his place in history due to one event, three millennia after his death.

It was the discovery of his completely intact tomb by the British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922, celebrated as the archaeological find of the 20th century.

Unviolated by grave robbers, Tutankhamun's tomb with its fabulous gold objects and trappings was, apparently, hidden by the mud huts of workers building the tomb of Rameses VI. That it was found at all is due to the archaeological patron Lord Carnarvon's obsession of finding Tutankhamun's grave and the persistence of his excavation leader Howard Carter.

Carnarvon, who had funded six major excavations had warned Carter that this would be the last season of work as no significant finds had been made. However on November 22, 1922, Carter's painstaking methods finally paid off .

The tomb was small, probably actually intended for a high official, but commandeered because of Tutankhamun's sudden death after ruling for nine years from 1361 BC to 1352 BC. It also contained two mummified babies. One is full-term, the other premature. These are believed to be twins, who died from 'twin-twin-transfusion', where the larger baby drains nutrients from the smaller due to a placental blood abnormality.

Such was the enormity of the 'wondrous things' found by the two Englishmen in the tomb, that not only did it become the yardstick for all such future discoveries, but also unleashed an Egyptian mania among the public, fuelled by sensational press reports.

This was further fanned by the death in Egypt of Lord Carnarvon (from a mosquito bite, leading to infection and then pneumonia) soon after the tomb was opened. …

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