What was it like to enter King Tut's tomb when it was opened in 1923?

National Geographic has just republished an essay written in 1923, by a journalist who ventured inside King Tut's tomb shortly after it was excavated - and told his tale with low-key swashbuckling flair.

National Geographic correspondent Maynard Owen Williams journeyed to Egypt to witness the opening of King Tut's tomb.

He begins:

Tutankhamen was the king who came back to the fold of Ammon, god of Thebes, and reestablished the royal residence there, after his father-in-law, Akhenaton, or Amenophis IV (also spelled Amenhotep), having made a spectacular break with the powerful priesthood, moved his capital to Tell-el-Amarna. In gratitude for this return, which ushered in to Thebes the glories of Seti I and Rameses II and conserved the spiritual hegemony of the local priests until they could seize temporal power as well, King Tutankhamen was sent out on his journey through the underworld equipped with such funeral vessels and mortuary implements as have never before been discovered.

It is unlikely that the comparatively small tomb itself will have more than a passing interest; but the rich store of rare and valuable funeral furniture with which the hiding place of Tutankhamen was packed almost surely contains such wonders from the distant past as have never before been seen by modern man.

On February 17th I arrived in Luxor, crossed the river and started on foot for the Tombs of the Kings.


You won't want to miss what happens to him as he walks toward the Tombs, encounters museum workers and a herd of impatient science journalists, and finally enters the Tomb itself. He also got to see the "official opening" of the tomb, which involved a very strange tea party with British and Egyptian ladies. It's not just a great account of one of the biggest archaeological finds of the twentieth century; it's also a riveting account of science journalism in the 1920s.

via National Geographic (Thanks, Marilyn Terrell!)


From National Geographic: The Sultana's party before the tomb of Tutankhamen
Eastern and Western womanhood, typified by the Sultana of Egypt, who clings to the enshrouding cloak and veil, and Lady Evelyn Herbert (Lord Carnarvon's daughter), wearing a wide straw hat, pay homage to a king whose court must have been as elaborate as that of any modern monarch.


The messy room of funeral treasures discovered in Tut's tomb.


King Tut's gold scarab belt buckle


A National Geographic journalist emerges after examining the tomb.

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