Ancient History & Civilisation

Chapter 50



CARTER AND CARNARVON weren’t the only Egyptologists to publish a book that year.

Carter leafed through the pages of Theodore Davis’s The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatankhamanou, and he was more convinced than ever that the elusive tomb of Tut was still out there somewhere in the valley.

Carter was “quite sure there were areas, covered by the dumps of previous excavators, which had not properly been examined.” Looking forward to the day when Davis would abandon his concession, and he and Carnarvon might return to the valley, Carter added: “I will state that we had definite hopes of finding one particular king, and that king was Tut.Ankh.Amen.”

In addition to finding Queen Tiye, Davis’s workers had excavated an ancient trash heap. Inside they found eight large sealed pots bearing Tutankhamen’s name. As it turned out, the jars were filled with embalming supplies and leftovers from a long-ago feast, along with floral collars stitched with berries and flowers.

Very likely, this feast took place after Tut’s burial. The flowers were a sort that bloomed between March and April, offering a clue as to when this mysterious pharaoh had died.

Carter lit a cigarette and reread the descriptions of the tomb in which Davis purported to have found Tut. In his opinion, the gold-flaked and alabaster objects present inside that tomb were of too low a quality for a pharaoh’s burial chamber. Davis was a fool not to see as much himself.

More likely they had been placed there years later, when the tomb was reopened. Owing to the growing connection between Amarna and the tomb, it seemed plausible that Queen Tiye had been relocated from Amarna to the valley at some point after her death.

No, Tut hadn’t been found. But other discoveries in the valley—jars of embalming fluid, the faience cup, remnants of a final meal bearing inscriptions showing it had been part of Tut’s burial feast, seals bearing his symbol stamped on tomb doorways—clearly showed that he had existed.

“To explain the reasons for this belief of ours, we must turn to the published pages of Mr. Davis’s excavations,” Carter went on to write. “Davis claimed that he had found the burial place of Tut.Ankh.Amen. The theory was quite untenabl…. We had thus three distinct pieces of evidence: the faience cup found beneath the rock, the gold foil from the small pit tomb, and this important cache of funerary material. Which seemed definitely to connect Tut.Ankh.Amen with this particular part of the valley.”

Now all Carter needed was an opportunity to find it. “With all this evidence before us, we were thoroughly convinced in our own minds that the tomb of Tut.Ankh.Amen was still to be found, and that it ought to be situated not far from the center of the valley.”

But he needed Davis to abandon his concession.

Two years later, the American did just that.

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