Touring the Carter Museum

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In 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter stumbled upon one of the most famous finds in Egyptology ? the tomb of Tutankhamun. Today Carter's house by the Valley of the Kings was opened as a museum. The BBC's Yolande Knell went on a tour of the new museum.

MARCO WERMAN: It was on this day in 1922 that British archeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutenkamen in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. It was filled with extravagant treasures that made both the pharaoh and the man who discovered his tomb famous. Today Howard Carter's headquarters was opened as a museum. The BBC's Yolande Knell took a tour.

TOUR GUIDE: We are in the office of Howard Carter. He used to sit in the office to write his own diary.

YOLANDE KNELL: Conveniently close to the entrance of the Valley of the Kings Howard Carter stayed in this rest house during the difficult years when he was employed by Lord Kanavan, owner of a vast collection of Egyptian artifacts obsessively searching for the burial place of a relatively unknown pharaoh named Tutenkamen. His discovery of the tomb exactly 87 years ago was to make the boy king and the archeologist famous around the world.

TOUR GUIDE: He was the most famous and the most luckiest to find a tomb like Tutenkamen with all the treasures inside almost intact. It is the same story as Tutenkamen, why he's famous. How about the rest of the kings and queens like Rameses II, Thutmose III, Hatshepsut ? they were more important than Tutenkamen. But Tutenkamen he became the most famous because of the treasures inside his tomb.

KNELL: Mustafa Wasari from Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities oversaw the restoration of the house now reopened as a museum. Among the first visitors were cousins of Howard Carter and the great grandson of Lord Kanavan who inherited his title. He says a lot of work went in to the eventual discovery.
LORD KANAVAN: It's rather forgotten that there were many years here spent working on the West Bank before Tutenkamen ? before anyone even heard of Tutenkamen. But they persisted right into the concession in the Valley of the Kings and to be honest it was their last year of work when they found Tutenkamen's tomb. They really weren't going to on and spend anymore time after that because money was really running out.

TOUR GUIDE: We are standing now so close to the Tomb of King Tutenkamen.

KNELL: Every day thousands of international visitors come to the Valley of the Kings. It's a short decent to the underground chamber where Tutenkamen mummy still lies. Although this is the smallest tomb here it remains a big attraction. It was through this doorway that Howard Carter finally made a tiny breach. Peering in he said he could see wonderful things. But those wonderful things over 5,000 objects were destined to stay in Egypt. Many including the golden burial mask are on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Museum director Wafaa el-Saddiq is grateful to early legislation on antiquities.

WAFAA EL-SADDIQ: Thank God because without this law it was in 1991 that collections can't be divided and at the same time unique objects cannot leave the country. I know that Howard Carter and Lord Kanavan want very much to have some objects or the whole collection even to bring them back to Britain but because of that law we saved Tutenkamen.


KNELL: New archeological discoveries are still being made across Egypt. But increasingly now Egyptians themselves are responsible. This applause greeted the announcement of several finds by the first all-Egyptian team to carry out excavations in the Valley of the Kings. Salima Ikram who teaches Egyptology at the American University in Cairo says it's a sign of the times.
SALIMA IKRAM: There are more opportunities for the Egyptians to work and so they are now taking up the work because before that I think frequently they either didn't have the training or were denied the permission to do this. So this is really sort of the democratization and accessibility for people to learn themselves and teach others about their own history.

KNELL: Egypt's chief archeologist believes most of the country's monuments still lie under the sands. With his proteges now searching for several missing royal tombs, there is hope they will lay claim to yet more famous finds. For The World this is Yolande Knell in Luxor, Egypt.