Updated: Jul 21
#38 Science in History
16th February 1923
Today marks the anniversary of one of the most significant discoveries in the history of archaeology: the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1923.
The discovery of the tomb was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the world-famous Egyptologist Howard Carter and his team. Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891, convinced there was at least one undiscovered tomb. Backed by his financier friend George Herbert, Lord Carnarvon, Carter searched for years without success. Lord Carnarvon, losing a great deal of money, wanted to stop the search in early 1922, but Carter convinced him to continue for another year.
In November 1922, the team found steps hidden near the entrance of another tomb - they had found Tutankhamun's tomb. Over the following months, Carter explored the four rooms of the tomb, cataloguing an array of treasures, including gold and silver objects, jewellery and furniture.
On February 16, 1923, Carter opened the last chamber – the burial chamber. Inside they found the mummy of Tutankhamun, interred in a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The innermost coffin was made of solid gold and contained the Pharaoh’s mummified remains.
Tutankhamun was just 18 years old when he died, and his mummy revealed that he suffered from a variety of health problems, including a broken leg that had become infected. There has been much speculation about the cause of Tutankhamun's death, with some theories suggesting he was murdered. However, the most widely accepted theory is that he died from complications related to his injuries and poor health.
Today, more than 5,000 treasures from the tomb are to be the centrepiece of a new, permanent home - The Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. The Museum is set to open this year.