On the 26th November 1922, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Although in many ways one of the minor Pharaohs, Tutankhamun is significant due to his being the most complete example of a royal tomb.
Having taken part in his first Egyptian excavation in 1891, Carter secured the financial assistance of Lord Carnarvon to lead his own expedition to the Valley of the Kings in 1907. Another archaeologist had recently declared his conviction that the valley contained no more treasures but, despite this dour assessment, Carter searched in vain for the tomb until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Although digging resumed again after the war, he continued to make few finds. The situation was so bleak that at the start of the 1922 season he was warned by Carnarvon that he would only provide one more season of funding.
Having cleared an area of the valley of a series of huts that had been used in previous digs, his crew cleared debris until they hit bedrock. On the 4th November they found a flight of steps that led to a doorway stamped with indistinct oval seals, called cartouches. Carter ordered the stairway be refilled, and waited for Carnarvon to make his way to Egypt.
On the 26th November, with access to the tomb cleared again of debris, Carter made a tiny hole in a doorway and used the light of a candle to peer inside. Carnarvon asked if he could see anything. Carter replied with the famous words: “Yes, wonderful things!”