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The Tomb of Tutankhamun—Howard Carter's Diary Entry

Maze puzzle of Pharaoh Akhenaten (father of Tutankhamun)

Maze puzzle of Pharaoh Akhenaten (father of Tutankhamun)

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Sunday, November 26, 1922
Open Second Doorway Around 2 PM

"Feverishly we cleared away the remaining last scraps of rubbish on the floor of the passage, until we had only the clean sealed doorway before us. After making preliminary notes, we made a tiny breach in the top left-hand corner to see what was beyond. Darkness and the iron testing rod told us that there was empty space. Perhaps another descending staircase, in accordance to the ordinary royal Theban tomb plan? Or maybe a chamber?

Candles were procured—the all important tell-tale for foul gases when opening an ancient subterranean excavation—and I widened the breach and by means of the candle looked in, while Lord. C., Lady E., and Callender with the Reises waited in anxious expectation.

It was sometime before I could see, the hot air escaping caused the candle to flicker, but as soon as my eyes became accustomed to the glimmer of light the interior of the chamber gradually loomed before me, with its strange and wonderful medley of extraordinary and beautiful objects heaped upon one another.

King Tut's Burial Chambers

King Tut's Burial Chambers

There was naturally short suspense for those present who could not see, when Lord Carnarvon said to me 'Can you see anything?' I replied to him 'Yes, it is wonderful.' I then with precaution made the hole sufficiently large for both of us to see. With the light of an electric torch as well as an additional candle we looked in.

Our sensations and astonishment are difficult to describe as the better light revealed to us the marvelous collection of treasures: two strange ebony-black effigies of a King, gold-sandaled, bearing staff and mace, loomed out from the cloak of darkness; gilded couches in strange forms, lion-headed, Hathor-headed, and beast infernal; exquisitely painted, inlaid, and ornamental caskets; alabaster vases, some beautifully executed of lotus and papyrus device; strange black shrines, with a gilded monster snake appearing from within; quite ordinary looking white chests; finely carved chairs; a golden inlaid throne; beneath our very eyes, on the threshold, a lovely lotiform wishing-cup in translucent alabaster; and, lastly, a confusion of overturned parts of chariots glinting with gold, peering from amongst which was a mannequin.

Tutankhamun: The Blessing of the Sun

Tutankhamun: The Blessing of the Sun

The first impression suggested the property-room of an opera of a vanished civilization. Our sensations were bewildering and full of strange emotion. We questioned one another as to the meaning of it all. Was it a tomb or merely a cache? A sealed doorway between the two sentinel statues proved there was more beyond, and with the numerous cartouches bearing the name of TutAnkhAmun on most of the objects before us, there was little doubt that there behind was the grave of that Pharaoh."

—from the Diary of archaeologist Howard Carter [edited], Sunday, November 26, 1922

Want more? Look through our page on memorable quotes from the ancient world. Or, read Shelly's Ozymandias, and ponder the inevitable triumph of time over the works of man.

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Text taken from Amazeing Art: Wonders of the Ancient World — HarperCollins Publishers — Serialized in Games magazine — Recommended by the Archaeological Institute of America — A BookSense "What's in Store" Main Selection —  Maze puzzle art reproduced by the British Museum

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I visited the Egyptian Labyrinth, and found it to surpass description; for if all the great works of the Greeks could be put together in one, they would not equal this building."

—Herodotus, Greek historian, 5th century BC

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