Howard Carter was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist, noted as a primary discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Howard Carter was born in London, England, the son of Samuel Carter, a skilled artist, who trained him to follow in his footsteps.
In 1891, at the age of 17, a talented young artist, he was sent out to Egypt by the Egypt Exploration Fund to assist Percy Newberry in the excavation and recording of Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan. Even at that young age he was innovative in improving the methods of copying tomb decoration. In 1892 he worked under the tutelage of Flinders Petrie for one season at Amarna, the capital founded by the pharaoh Akhenaten. From 1894 to 1899 he then worked with Édouard Naville at Deir el-Bahari, where he recorded the wall reliefs in the temple of Hatshepsut.
In 1899, Carter was appointed the first chief inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service (EAS). He supervised a number of excavations at Thebes before he was transferred in 1904 to the Inspectorate of Lower Egypt. Carter resigned from the Antiquities Service in 1905 after an enquiry into an affray between Egyptian site guards and a group of French tourists in which he sided with the Egyptian personnel.
After three hard years, Carter was employed by Lord Carnarvon to supervise his excavations from 1907. The intention of Gaston Maspero, who introduced the two, was to ensure that Carter imposed modern archaeological methods and systems of recording.
Carnarvon financed Carter’s work in the Valley of the Kings from 1914, but it was interrupted by World War I until 1917, when serious work was resumed. After several years of fruitless searching, Carnarvon became dissatisfied with the lack of results and, in 1922, he gave Carter one more season of funding to find the tomb he was searching for.
On 4 November 1922, Carter’s excavation group found the steps leading to Tutankhamun’s tomb, by far the best preserved and most intact pharaonic tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings. He wired Carnarvon to come, and on 26 November 1922, with Carnarvon, Carnarvon’s daughter, and others in attendance, Carter made the “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway, and was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place. He did not yet know at that point whether it was “a tomb or merely a cache”, but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues.
On 16 February 1923, Carter opened the sealed doorway, and found that it did indeed lead to a burial chamber, and he got his first glimpse of the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of these discoveries were eagerly covered by the world’s press, but most of their representatives were kept in their hotels; only H. V. Morton was allowed on the scene, and his vivid descriptions helped to cement Carter’s reputation with the British public.
The clearance of the tomb with its thousands of objects continued until 1932. Following his sensational discovery, Howard Carter retired from archaeology and became a part-time agent for collectors and museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
He died of lymphoma, a type of cancer, in Kensington, London, on 2 March 1939 at the age of 64. Carter is buried in the Putney Vale Cemetery in London. On his gravestone is written: “May your spirit live, May you spend millions of years, You who love Thebes, Sitting with your face to the north wind, Your eyes beholding happiness” and “O night, spread thy wings over me as the imperishable stars”.
Today Google is celebrating his 138th birthday with a beautiful doodle on their homepage showing the world once again a great person who lived in this world and made a huge discovery in his time.Howard Carter's 138th Birthday - Google Doodle,