November 4, 1922
CARTER WAS SMOKING a cigarette, already his fifth or sixth that day, and was again in a hopeful mood. He sat astride his brown and white mule as it sauntered into the valley, his feet resting in the stirrups of a fine leather saddle.
The dirt path wound between cliffs that climbed steeply, giving way to pale blue sky.
This was the same route Carter had traveled countless times in the past thirty years, and the day seemed like it would be just another day, fraught with expectation but tempered by despair. Before going home the night before he had ordered his foreman to finish clearing the soil down to the bedrock. Now he smoked and wondered how the work was progressing.
Thirty years—a long time for such unpleasant and unrewarding results. No wonder they laughed behind his back in Luxor.
He noticed the valley was quiet.
That could be a problem, for the valley was never quiet during dig season.
His curiosity aroused, and not in a good way, Carter dismounted and tied the animal in the shade. Reis, the foreman, found Carter almost immediately to tell him the news. “I was greeted by the announcement that a step cut into the rock had been discovered,” Carter recalled. “This seemed too good to be true, but a short amount of clearing revealed that we were actually in the entrance of a step cut in the rock.”
Carter had seen this sort of staircase in many valley tombs, and, he mused, “I almost dared to hope we had found our tomb at last.”