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Tut Ankh Amun: The Excavation Team



It didn’t take Carter & Carnarvon long to appreciate the enormity of the discovery and its implications. Carter realized the amount of skills & work he needed to work the tomb out. On 7th DEC he cabled the curator of the Metropolitan asking for help in clearing the tomb. Finally the team has been formed: Breasted; founder and 1st director of the oriental institute of the University of Chicago. Burton; the photographer, the quality of his pictures are among the finest archeological photographs ever made. Lucas; a chemist, with his efforts, the treasures of Tut arrived Cairo safely. Callender; an architect and engineer, he played a great part in the conservation of the gilded wooden shrines & generally in clearing the burial chamber. Mace; a prominent historian & excavator, in 1924 his health failed and he had to leave Egypt for good. Carter, the excavator, Gardiner; philologist, responsible for deciphering the hieroglyphs.


Clearing the tomb

Clearing and recording all the treasures of Tut and making them fit for removal to Cairo museum took almost a decade. Carter and his team made all possible efforts for preserving all the treasures of the tomb. From the beginning of the expedition they employed the tomb of Ramses 11th as a store for supplies. The tomb of Seti 2nd was used as conservation laboratory and photographic studio. Tomb 55 was used as dark room for Burton. A routine was rapidly established for processing the seemingly endless flow of treasures and conservation challenges issuing forth from the tomb.

Each object or groups of objects was given a reference number.

Pictures were taken for each object with & without the reference number. This was done in situ.

A brief description was then written for the object.

The object was removed from the tomb to the laboratory for conservation and further photography.

Finally, a photograph would be taken for the object as conserved.

Of course all of this was done in severe conditions, the sweltering heat of the sun and the continued harassment of the press plus the thousands of visitors who came to see The Cave of Aladdin as the press named it.

Clearance of the antechamber began on 27th DEC 1922, took 7 weeks and used up to a mile of cotton and 32 bales of calico. At the end the antiquities were crated up with care, transported to the river by hand propelled Decauville railway. Though a relatively short distance, the journey took more than 15 hours. Only the mask and the coffins were transported by train, guarded by the Egyptian army. At the end the tomb had been cleared and the entrance blocked and guarded by a policeman.

During the work in the valley an unhappy accident happened, the death of lord Carnarvon. On 28th FEB 1923, the lord departed to Aswan to have some rest and celebrate with some friends. He was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito. Shaving with his cut-throat razor, he opened the bite, which reddened angrily. Despite treating the wound with iodine from his well-stocked medicine chest, a fever set in. arrangements were made to take him to Cairo for rest and medical treatment. In the days before penicillin, he fell prey to pneumonia and on 5th April all was over. The body was transported to England and buried in Beacon Hill overlooking his beloved Highclere. Now Carter should add the task of public relations to his original task as an excavator.

Finally in the spring of 1932, clearing and conservation of the tomb came to an end. For the rest of his life, Carter was writing his six volumes work entitled “a report upon the discovery ofTut”. He died in London, on 2nd march 1939. According to his will, written in1931, his papers and personal possessions passed to his niece, PhyllisWalker. His furniture was auctioned at Sotheby’s in DEC 1939, his books two month later in FEB 1940. His collection passed to Cairo museum. His house o n the west bank passed to the Metropolitan.

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