Howard Carter, “his” a few days before “D” day


Howard Carter, (born May 9, 1874, Swaffham, Norfolk, England—died March 2, 1939, London), is a British archaeologist, a genius at the point of locating and making discoveries in the history of ancient Egypt. He made one of the richest and most-celebrated contributions to Egyptology: the discovery (1922) of the largely intact tomb of King Tutankhamen. Howard Carter made the discovery of a lifetime, but it was also the decades he spent excavating in Egypt that changed the field — and the world — forever.

Tomb of Tutankhamun

“By 1922, Lord Carnarvon had become dissatisfied with the lack of results after several years of finding little. After considering withdrawing his funding, Carnarvon agreed, after a discussion with Carter, that he would fund one more season of work in the Valley of the Kings. Carter returned to the Valley of Kings and investigated a line of huts that he had abandoned a few seasons earlier. The crew cleared the huts and rock debris beneath. On 4 November 1922, their young water boy accidentally stumbled on a stone that turned out to be the top of a flight of steps cut into the bedrock. Carter had the steps partially dugout until the top of a mud-plastered doorway was found. The doorway was stamped with indistinct cartouches (oval seals with hieroglyphic writing). Carter ordered the staircase to be refilled and sent a telegram to Carnarvon, who arrived from England two-and-a-half weeks later on 23 November, accompanied by his daughter Lady Evelyn Herbert…” Wikipedia

Let’s find out more about this “D” day, by Marie Grillot, in her description of this great find. With Thanks! 🙏💖

Howard Carter, “ses” quelques jours précédant le jour “J”


Howard Carter (London 9-5-1874 – 2-3-1939), thanks to funding from his patron and friend Lord Carnarvon,
discovers, on November 4, 1922, in the Valley of the Kings, Tutankhamun’s tomb
right: Tutankhamun’s Ushabti, in wood and gold leaf, wearing an ebony khepresh, and holding the crook and the flail
housing 318-a – JE 60830 – GEM 176

For this new mission, which was to begin in the Valley of the Kings, on November 1, 1922, Howard Carter had left London on October 5. After having crossed France, the next day, he had embarked, in Marseilles, on the S.S. “China”.

Arrived at Port Said on the 11th in the early morning, he reached Cairo in the afternoon. He will spend more than two weeks there, the necessary time to honour a few appointments, and especially, to “hunt” at antique dealers! He will get his supplies, in particular, at Robert Nahman and at Nicolas Tano, where among his acquisitions are a small earthenware hedgehog. Ans also an aragonite flask made of two ducks, a mirror, a Harpocratic bronze. These pieces are, for the most part, intended to enrich the collection of Lord Carnarvon.

On the 27th, he left for Louqsor by night train and, on his arrival, took a connection for Erment. He indeed wishes to find his old friend, Arthur Callender, who lives there. They certainly have a lot to say to each other. Howard Carter will not reach the west bank of Luxor, by boat, until the 29th.

The finders of Tutankhamun’s tomb Lord Carnarvon (left) and Howard Carter (right)
Photomontage on display in Castle Carter – Carter House – seen behind them

He then finds the home built by Lord Carnarvon: Carter House – Castle Carter. It rises proudly on the hill of Elwat-el-Diban in the north of the Assassif: at the crossroads of the road, which leads to the Valley of the Kings.

In “The Path to Tutankhamun”, it is related that he arrives there with an acquisition of a completely different nature: a canary in a golden cage… “His servant Abdel followed him carrying the canary, the guards and the reis greeted him immediately, and at the sight of the golden bird, they said to him: ‘Mabrouk – it is a golden bird that will bring good luck. This year we will find, inshallah, a tomb full of gold. . Where is the part of the truth? Where is the part of the legend?

We can imagine the joy that Howard Carter must feel in being at his home …But this feeling is certainly tarnished by the memory of the previous mission of February, not very fruitful, that carried out near the grave of Siptah …Added to this are the events of the summer, which had failed to jeopardize the continuation of its collaboration with his patron and friend …

Lord Carnarvon (right) and Howard Carter will discover Tutankhamun’s tomb on November 4, 1922

“In the summer of 1922, Carter and Carnarvon had a long and important discussion in the magnificent library of Highclere Castle. The patron had decided to stop funding the work in the Valley of the Kings. Too few results had led him to the conclusion that these excavations were futile, expensive and tiring. Carter, who could take over the concession, informed the Lord that he was determined to continue exploring the valley, even if it meant doing it alone with the help of his own money. Carnarvon knew that Carter had no fortune and, faced with so much pugnacity on the part of the latter and impressed by his conviction, the aristocrat, affected, resolved to finance a final campaign. How accurate is this somewhat melodramatic relationship of the interview conveyed by Sir Alan Gardiner? No one, without a doubt, will never know “relates with relevance and sensitivity”. Marc Gabolde in his excellent” Tutankhamun “…

Howard Carter is aware of the pressure weighing on his shoulders: this new mission must bear fruit… and, for that, he must search in the right place!

Valley of the Kings: Tutankhamun’s tomb shortly after the discovery
it is located, in the foreground of this photo, behind the three soldiers

In “Under the Gaze of the Gods”, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt mentions that he (Carter) went to Deir el-Medineh to obtain advice from Bernard Bruyère for better targeting the sector to prospect. Bruyère welcomed and comforted him: “Do not forget that at the foot of the tomb of Ramses VI, there are walls of raw earth which are the remains of the huts. Where the workers who were digging the tomb of the Pharaoh stored their instruments at night. You picked them up and photographed them. That’s good! Now, blow them up and look at what’s underneath. ‘ Carter refused, but Bruyère insisted a lot “.

Omission on the part of one, modesty on the part of the other? Carter does not mention this interview in his diary… And, in his article entitled “The extraordinary treasure hunt” published in the “Nouvelles Littéraires – Spécial Toutankhamon”, of February 1967, Bernard Bruyère does not make any reference to it either, expressing, on the contrary, his surprise: “We were a little surprised to see him, at dawn on November 4, place his team at the foot of the Ghafir hut and start digging in front of the entrance from the tomb of Ramses VI “.

The finders of Tutankhamun Lord Carnarvon’s tomb (left)
and Howard Carter near KV 62
(photo (Harry Burton?) taken between November 1922 and April 1923)

He also shares the memory of a lunch he attended at the Winter Palace in April 1922. At the end of the 1921-1922 excavation campaign, Lord Carnarvon had invited, in the presence of Pierre Lacau, director of the Service of Antiquities, the main Egyptologists present in Thebes… The speech the Lord gave then seemed to augur the end of his excavations in the Valley of the Kings…However, at the end of lunch, as an aside, after a discussion, visibly animated and passionate with their Reis, Carter and Carnarvon would have spoken with Pierre Lacau. The latter apparently admitted, “that the ten-year concession, from 1913 to 1923 granted to Carnarvon and Carter could, at a pinch, include a final campaign of excavations and that consequently works, would resume at the beginning of autumn “…

If we become aware of these waltzes-hesitations that reigned then, we can only realize that it was very near that the tomb of the young king would never be discovered at that time …

Excavation journals and diaries made by Howard Carter and Arthur Mace
Howard Carter’s excavation diaries (transcripts and scans)
1st Season, October 28th 1922 to May 30th 1923
© The Griffith Institute, University of Oxford

But fate was on… Howard Carter will note in his diary; the first three days of November: “Beginning of operations in the Valley of the Kings. I started by continuing the old excavation, where it left off at the NE angle of the entrance to the tomb of Ramses VI, and digging trenches to the south. In this place, there were old stone huts of the workers of the Necropolis, built a little less than a meter above the bedrock…When we cleared them, they turned out to continue under the front of the entrance to the tomb of Ramses VI, in a southerly direction, and connected to other similar huts… These old huts were soon cleared of the rubbish that covered them.

After I noted the plan, they were destroyed to be able to prospect underneath, a job that took us until November 4th… “…

That day was the “D” day, the “D” day …

Marie Grillot


Excavation journals and diaries made by Howard Carter and Arthur Mace – Howard Carter’s excavation diaries (transcripts and scans)

1st Season, October 28th 1922 to May 30th 1923

© The Griffith Institute, University of Oxford.

Howard Carter, The path to Tutankhamun, T.G.H. James, TPP, 1992

Tutankhamun, Marc Gabolde, Pygmalion, 2015

“The extraordinary treasure hunt” by Bernard Bruyère, published in the “Nouvelles Littéraires – Spécial Toutankhamon” of February 1967 (my most sincere thanks to M. Gabolde who so obligingly brought this document to my knowledge)

Under the gaze of the gods, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, Albin Michel, 2003

Life and Death of a Pharaoh, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, Hachette, 1963

The fabulous discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, Howard Carter

The tomb of Tutankhamun, Howard Carter

Tutankhamun, Life, Death and Discovery of a Pharaoh, Nicholas Reeves, 1990, Thames

Tutankhamun, Jean Capart, 1923

Discover Tutankhamun, Zahi Hawass, Editions du Rocher, 2015

The gilded wooden coffin of the mummy of Tutankhamun Photo: Harry Burton, 1922 
© The Griffith Institute, University of Oxford

4 thoughts on “Howard Carter, “his” a few days before “D” day

  1. elainemansfield

    What a miracle of discovery! So much incredible artwork and history in these tombs. It was an honor ti see many Egyptian pieces of art in New York City, including a small rebuilt temple that would have been flooded by the Nile after the building of the dams–but I wondered how much of it should be returned to Egypt and the land where it was created. Thank you for more history and beautiful images.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.