When I was a junior high student, I maintained a somewhat modest fascination of King Tut. Well, that may not be strictly true, as I knew (and cared) not at all about his short 20-year life. His time as Egypt’s leader didn’t register, either. The cause of his death?…not my concern.
I was interested in all the super-cool gold things that were discovered in his tomb. Our school library had purchased a book detailing much of Tutankhamun’s life, and I checked it out several times to gawk at the pictures.
Typical junior higher, I suppose. Now that I’m older, things have changed…I’ve lost much of my fascination with King Tut.
However, that’s not to say I’d ignore an important day related to him or, as in this case, his discovery.
When Howard Carter first discovered what looked to be a stairway under some small ancient buildings in November of 1922, his pulse began to race. He had been searching for a the tomb of a relatively unknown king named Tutankhamun for some time. By the end of the day a complete staircase had been excavated and a sealed doorway had been found. Excitement grew at the potential of finding a tomb untouched by robbers.
At this point, Carter stopped digging and sent word to his boss, Lord Carnavon, that an intact tomb of a to-this-point unknown person had been found. Three weeks later (on November 24th, as transportation took some time in the 1920s) Carnavon arrived and the digging resumed.
By the end of the next day, there had been numerous discoveries. There was a seal with Tut’s named on it. Behind it was a long, sloping passageway also quickly cleared out. And then there was another sealed door, also bearing Tut’s name. The crew was breathless with anticipation as evidence for a significant find quickly grew.
On November 26, 1922, Carter punched a small hole in the upper left of the door with trembling hands, big enough for a candle. He would later write, “At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle to flicker. Presently, details of the room emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold.”
The pent-up anticipation gave way to jubilation. A long-lost treasure had been found. But what Carter, Carnavon, and the rest of the team couldn’t yet know was that the gold they saw in the flicker of the candlelight would pale in comparison to the gold they would utlimately find.