On this day in 1923, a game of hide and seek that had lasted for 3,300 years came to an end in what would prove to be one of the most significant finds in the history of archaeology.
By the turn of the 1920s, it was assumed that all the tombs in Ancient Egypt had been discovered. There were essentially two types of tomb: the iconic pyramids, and the less ostentatious ones carved into the rock in the Valley of the Kings. The Ancient Egyptians had made the change because the pyramids kept getting robbed; however, the robberies continued, so the tombs were built increasingly clandestinely, difficult to find by design. With thousands of years’ worth of sand blown on top of them, by the twentieth century they had been completely lost. In 1907, an American team was excavating a fairly insignificant tomb in the Valley of Kings when they discovered some artefacts that were curious, because they made reference to a pharaoh called Tutankhamun, about whom almost nothing was known, including what happened to his body. The team spent some time digging further, but found nothing, and assumed there was nothing to find.
In 1915, Egyptologist Howard Carter went out to the Valley of the Kings. Most people thought he was a fool, late to the party, digging in the same place everybody else had already looked. Carter, however, was convinced that the artefacts found earlier proved that there was an undiscovered tomb still there. It took him seven years, but in 1922 he realised that a series of huts that had been used by previous digging teams were actually right on top of a hidden staircase. Methodically digging out the stairs, he discovered a hidden door bearing the name of Tutankhamen. On 29th November 1922, Carter and his team carefully opened the door and dug through limestone chippings to gain entrance to the outer chamber of the tomb, where he found incredible artefacts, which were catalogued and slowly removed. Then, 97 years ago to this day, they made their way into the burial chamber, and set eyes on the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun, the first people to do so in well over three thousand years. However, it would be another two years before they managed to open the sarcophagus and see the mummy itself. Archaeology is not exactly the action-packed adventure that Indiana Jones makes it out to be.
Lord Carnarvon, who had sponsored Carter, died less than a month later, on 5th April. This triggered speculation that the tomb was cursed, and that all those who were involved in its desecration would die. It is true that several people associated with the discovery died in unpleasant circumstances shortly after the find, but it is somewhat undercut by the fact that Howard Carter himself lived for another 16 years.
Curse or no curse, the wealth of valuable antiquities found in Tutankhamun’s tomb was unparalleled in archaeology, largely because it was so well hidden (contrary to popular belief, the tomb had been broken into at some point, but it had not been looted in the same way most others had). The discovery has led to Tutankhamun becoming one of the most famous pharaohs in popular culture; in life, however, he was an unimpressive and quite tragic figure. He was born was many serious genetic illnesses which left him in pain, and he died at approximately age 19, having been pharaoh since he was ten. It is unclear how he died, but it was likely due to a blow to the head that could have been either accident or murder. His tomb was smaller than average for a pharaoh, which contributed to it remaining undiscovered for so long. It is therefore ironic that his tomb and face (at least in the form of his iconic golden mask) have become the most famous relics of Ancient Egypt, when in life he made almost no impact. Then again, if you’re still making the headlines over three thousand years after you died, you must have done something right.
Coming up this week at The Webinar Vet…
Tue 18th February 2020, 8:00 pm
by Michelle Moran RVN Cert ECC VTS
We should all be aiming to monitor blood pressure during anaesthesia and understand why it is important to do so, but in order to do that, we first need to understand physiology, drug effects and how to correctly measure and interpret blood pressure readings. The aim of this webinar is to gain a deeper understanding of this and increase your confidence in monitoring this parameter in our patients.
Tue 18th February 2020, 8:00 pm
In a post-Brexit world, British agriculture will no longer be governed by the Common Agricultural Policy. This provides an opportunity to shape future English agricultural policy whilst ensuring that we maintain world-leading health and welfare standards within our thriving agricultural sector. This webinar will provide an overview of the current structures being established and details of how farm animal vets can have their say.
Being presented by Jon Statham and BCVA representatives to consult on what the proposed Animal Health Pathway will look like for the cattle industry. Join and have your say in what it should look like. We need your views!
Sun 23rd February 2020, 7:00 pm
by Mike ScanlanPRD
Feel the stress melt away with Mike’s monthly helping of tranquility.