Friday, November 6, 2015

A Look Inside Howard Carter's Tutankhamun Diary | History | Smithsonian
Today, historians take a more critical view of the looting of Egypt's antiquities by colonialist collectors such as Carter and Carnarvon. (Mike Nelson/epa/Corbis)

Together they had uncovered the best-preserved and most intact pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of Kings. A year and a half later, Carter's team entered the burial chamber to find gold-covered shrines and jewel-studded chests. Raising the lid of Tutankhamun's sarcophagus revealed a coffin of pure gold that held the mummified remains of the boy, King Tut. Word of the discovery flashed across the globe, igniting the world's latest craze and turning Carter into a major celebrity.

Lord Carnarvon was not so lucky. While in Egypt he suffered a mosquito bite that became infected and he died three weeks later—an event that journalists famously ascribed to the "Mummy's Curse." The tale became a staple for Hollywood moviemakers. Carter's journal and subsequent public writings, photographs, and documentary film related details about the 20th century's most exciting archaeological discovery.

This article is excerpted from Scott Christianson's "100 Documents That Changed The World," available November 10.