On the 16th February 1923, Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It took two and a half months for his team to catalogue and clear the contents of the antechamber and annex. Having then secured permission from the Department of Antiquities of Egypt to open the fourth sealed door, Carter came face-to-face with the enormous gilt shrine containing the king.
Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, had opened the first chamber of the tomb on the 26th November the previous year. They catalogued and removed more than 2,000 artefacts from the antechamber and its annex, during which time they found a doorway with its rope seal still intact. Having opened the door, Carter found the chamber filled with an enormous gilded shrine which, it later emerged, was the outer layer of four nested shrines inside which lay the king’s sarcophagus.
It took Carter and his team 12 months to disassemble the shrines within the tight confines of the tomb and prepare to lift the lid of the sarcophagus, by which time Lord Carnarvon had died. His death in April 1923 contributed to the legend of the “Curse of Tutankhamun”, but was more likely due to complications associated with accidentally infecting a mosquito bite while shaving.
Tutankhamun’s mummy itself wasn’t finally reached until October 1925, while work to remove the remaining artefacts from the tomb continued until the 10th November 1930, eight years after the discovery of the tomb. The artefacts are now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, while Tutankhamun’s mummy is displayed inside a climate-controlled glass box inside the tomb.