February 26, 1920
A DISCOVERY HAD BEEN MADE, but what kind of discovery was it? Large or small?
Carter bent down to be the first to examine the find. Lord Carnarvon was close on his heels, as was his wife, Lady Carnarvon.
They appeared to be inspecting a common debris pile—rocks, sand, chips of flint and pottery tossed aside during the excavation of a tomb long ago.
But peeking out, smooth and white, were alabaster jars—a dozen or more.
And the jars were intact.
Carter stepped forward to clear away more dirt, but the normally reserved Lady Carnarvon beat him to it. Though heavyset and past her prime, she dropped down to her knees and clawed fitfully at the soil. The Carnarvons had invested substantial time and money in the valley, and this was the first significant treasure they had to show for it. Lady Carnarvon would not be denied the opportunity to enjoy the discovery every bit as much as the men.
Carter and the workers stood back to watch as she cleared the soil away from each jar.
A tally was taken when she was done: thirteen. Perfect and near pristine, they were most certainly related to the burial of a king named Merenptah and represented a decent find.
There were, however, no markings indicating that the jars had anything to do with Tut. As minor as the find may have been, something was better than nothing. And with the close of the 1920 dig season just a week off, it would end the period of labor on a high note.
“It was the nearest approach to a real find that we had yet made in the valley,” Carter wrote in his journal.
Once again, he was the hopeful Don Quixote of Egypt.