February 8, 1915
LORD CARNARVON SNATCHED UP Theodore Davis’s concession without hesitation. Just like that, after eight years of waiting, Carter was back in the valley. He finally began scouring the area for his long-hoped-for virgin tomb on February 8, 1915.
When Davis had walked away from his concession, saying that the valley was “exhausted,” few members of the Egyptology community disagreed. “We remembered, however, that a hundred years earlier Belzoni had made a similar claim and refused to be convinced. We had made a thorough excavation of the site and remained convinced that there were areas, covered by the dumps of previous excavators, which had never been properly examined,” wrote Carter.
Carter clung to the belief that Davis’s evidence was incredibly slipshod and that he’d made assumptions about the discovered mummy’s identity that couldn’t be verified. “Clearly enough, we saw that very heavy work lay before us and that many thousands of tons of surface debris would have to be removed before we could find anything. But there was always a chance that a tomb might reward us in the end, and that was always a chance we were willing to take.”
So February 8, 1915, should have been a triumphant day for Carter, as what amounted to the pinnacle of his life’s work was about to begin.
There was just one problem: the world was at war.
All digging in the Valley of the Kings had been stopped. Even worse, orders arrived from the British army drafting Carter into service.
How dare the venal, tawdry modern world intrude on his search for an ancient king.