In November 1922, one of the most amazing discoveries of the 20th century was made when Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered the lost tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. In doing so, they became the first people to enter the tomb in almost 3000 years. The tomb consisted of several rooms filled with all kinds of treasures which were buried with the “Boy King.” It is located in The Valley of the Kings at Luxor in Egypt, which is one of the most famous historical sites in the world.
There are many tombs and burial chambers at this site but many of them had been broken into and plundered over the centuries. What made this discovery so special was that the tomb of Tutankhamun was completely intact and untouched for thousands of years. Howard Carter, who was financed and sponsored by Lord Carnarvon, spent many years searching for this particular tomb. On November 4th 1922, while he was excavating under some workers’ huts, he unearthed the stairway that led down to the lost tomb. Three weeks later, on November 26th, he reached the sealed doors of the inner chamber and made one of the world’s great discoveries.
Because of this discovery, Tutankhamun is the world’s best known Pharaoh and the contents of his burial chamber have given us a wonderful insight into life in ancient Egypt. He is referred to as the boy king because he became Pharaoh at the age of nine. He ruled over Egypt for ten years before dying in 1323 BC, at the age of nineteen. The king’s body was buried within three coffins, the outer two made of beautifully decorated wood, and the inner coffin, which contained the Pharaoh’s remains, made of pure gold.
There were so many artefacts and treasures buried with the king that it took researchers and archaeologists eight years to record, photograph and remove them from the different chambers. They included chariots, furniture, statues, pottery, gold, silver and many other precious items. Probably the single most famous item is the death mask of Tutankhamun which is also made of pure gold.
Many of these items are now on display in The Egyptian Museum in the capital city, Cairo. They have toured the world on many occasions (including Ireland), but in recent years the Egyptian Government has decided that some of the artefacts, including the death mask, are so fragile and delicate that they will never again leave the country.