Ancient History & Civilisation

Chapter 63

Valley of the Kings

1920

BUT TUT’S TOMB would not be found in 1917—or 1918 or 1919, for that matter.

Carter surveyed the Valley of the Kings with deepening frustration and little of his usual quixotic hopefulness.

Hundreds of workers had labored on Lord Carnarvon’s payroll for a number of long seasons—and for nothing of any real value. In Luxor, Carter was something of a laughingstock, a sad man tilting at windmills.

Carter had found tombs that had been begun but never finished, caches of alabaster jars, a series of workmen’s huts. And though his patience seemed inexhaustible, Lord Carnarvon’s was not. “We had now dug in the valley for several seasons with extremely scanty results,” Carter lamented. “It had become a much debated question whether we should continue the work or try for a more profitable site elsewhere. After these barren years, were we justified in going on?”

He looked out at the valley, searching for some sign of King Tut. As Carter explained it: “So long as a single area of untouched ground remained, the risk was worth taking.” His rationale was simple: “If a lucky strike be made, you will be repaid for years and years of dull and unprofitable work.”

His gaze rested on the flint boulders and workmen’s huts over by the tomb of Rameses VI.

That would be his focus next year—if there was to be a next year.

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