Friday, 23 November 2012

90th Anniversary of the Opening of the Tomb of Tutankhamen

When Carter and his team found the steps on 4th of November they had no idea what they lead to and when they cleared the steps and the corridor they still had no idea if the tomb was going to be empty. That had happened before. Carter had wired his sponsor once he found the steps and said he had covered up the tomb awaiting his arrival so whatever lay behind that wall would be a surprise for both of them. On 22nd November 1922 Howard Carter pushed a light through a breech in the wall that blocked the entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamen and when asked what he saw by his sponsor Lord Carnarvon he said ‘wonderful things’. So the celebration yesterday was to commemorate that event.

We started in the Valley of Kings and all the various missions were gathered, it was great chatting with them. I was invited by the Hungarian mission to visit their dig. Much to our combined surprise photos were allowed and I had my I-phone with me so I took a few photos of the crowd. We had to wait for the guests of honour, The Minister of Tourism, Minister of Antiquities, the American Ambassador and the current Lord and Lady Carnarvon. 
Teresa Bedman, Me, Mohammed Bali, Francisco Martine Valentine

Christian Le Blanc

Hungarian Team
Lady Carnarvon

Francesco Tiradritti

Then we went into the tomb of Merenptah which had been closed for some years whilst restoration of the sarcophagi had taken place. You may remember a lecture a while ago given by Ted Brock when he talked about the work he had done inside the tomb. I really like the marking in the concrete, that holds together the restored piece of the originals, so you get a sense of what the entire piece was like. They have also placed the objects on plinths with lights so you can view the underside, nice. With the media there with all their heavy duty professional cameras the rules about no photos was also relaxed inside the tomb. No flash of course but with cameras today that is not a big issue. I was snapping away like made. I have put the entire album up on Facebook good and bad photos but just selected a few here.

Then the group moved to the tomb of Tutankhamen. I haven’t been inside since 1981 and as they may well close the tomb soon I thought I ought to as I went down they were interviewing Lord and Lady Carnarvon and I took the opportunity to say hello to her as we knew each other from when we worked together on the Carter House restoration. Imagine my pleasure when she gave me a present, she expected I would be there and had brought me some Highclere souvenirs. I was over the moon and just wished my grandmother was still alive to know about it. Imagine being given a present by Lady Carnarvon in the tomb of Tutankhamen that she had brought especially for you. I think it was fair to say it was the most special day of my Egyptology life.

I went into the tomb and can you believe it we were allowed to take photos there as well, stunning so I snapped away. There were some people working in the tomb and their lights appear in the pictures but I am sure you don’t mind.

Lord and Lady Carnarvon in the tomb of Tutankhamen


In the evening was a do at the Carter House, the first part was a slide show and speeches by the various dignitaries. Both the American Ambassador Anne Patterson and Lord and Lady Carnarvon spoke about tourism. Expressing their hope that their high profile visits showed the world that Egypt was safe for tourists and people should come and enjoy the wonders of Luxor. Then there was a 6 course gala dinner which was finished off with a cake in the shape of Tutankhamen, Lady Carnarvon cut the first slice.


Rowz said...

How lucky you are Jane!!! Many thanks for posting these photos, you clearly had a wonderful day.Rose

Thutmose said...

You are indeed a very lucky woman Jane! I wish I could have been there too. But it will be nice to revisit Merenptah's tomb when I return. Now if they would just reopen Amenhotep II, Horemheb, and Thutmose III. Then I would be really happy.