Ancient History & Civilisation

Chapter 92

Valley of the Kings

November 26, 1922

AS LADY EVELYN and Lord Carnarvon hurried to join him—Callender was too portly to squeeze through—Carter examined the shrine.

He was facing a pair of mighty wooden doors secured with an ebony bolt. Inside, as Carter well knew, would be several smaller shrines like this one. Only after each shrine had been opened would he be able to see the sarcophagus, coffins—and the mummy itself.

At this thought, Carter’s heartbeat quickened. There was definitely a mummy here. There was no way tomb robbers could have stolen the body without destroying the shrines, and these shrines were in pristine condition.

With Carnarvon’s help, Carter slowly and carefully slid back the bolt. The doors swung on their hinges. A linen shroud decorated with gold rosettes was draped over the next shrine. One rosette fell away as the door was opened. Carter slipped it into his pocket without a second thought.

Now he lifted the shroud and saw further evidence that the mummy had not been disturbed: on the bolts of yet another opening, to yet another shrine, was a royal seal. It was the royal necropolis stamp, with a jackal and nine bound captives, signifying that a pharaoh lay within.

By now, it was almost morning. The group explored a while longer, but soon they left. The Carnarvons needed rest. They weren’t used to the heat or the manual labor. Even Carter needed a break, though for him a short one would suffice.

They climbed the steps, walking from the ancient past to the cool predawn air of the present in just a few seconds.

Carter’s men were still standing guard. They helped secure the tomb for the night and would remain there to protect it from possible invaders.

The greatest day of Howard Carter’s life was done.

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