Discovering King Tut’s Tomb

king-tutankhamun-tomb

A Brief History

On November 4, 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter found the entrance to Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

Digging Deeper

The boy Pharaoh Tutankhamun reigned ca. 1332 to 1323 BC, his name meaning that he is the living image of the god Amun.  “Tut” was likely the son of the rather unique pharaoh Akhenaten, the husband to Nefertiti, who herself ranks seventh on a list of Top 10 African Rulers, Kings and Emperors.  Tut’s father’s uniqueness stems from attempting something of a religious revolution.  Tut’s father tried to focus worship on the sun disk called Aten in what some scholars identify as a type of monotheism in rejection to the usual polytheism associated with ancient Egyptians.  Tut was even originally called Tutankhaten, i.e. the living image of Aten, before changing his name following his father’s death when traditional polytheism was restored.  Given that he ascended the throne as a nine or ten year old boy and died at age eighteen, he probably did not make many decisions by himself during his short reign.  Moreover, the young pharaoh, a possible product of incest died under mysterious circumstances, probably by accident, although some suggest assassination as the culprit.

Tut was subsequently mummified and entombed.  He became largely a historic footnote until the Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter’s research in the early twentieth century.  Although Carter made the ground-breaking discovery of the tomb on this date just over a hundred years ago, he did not peer inside for a few more weeks.  Then, on November 26, 1922, he looked inside, probably the first human to do so in thousands of years.  Carnarvon asked Carter if he could see anything.  Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.”

Carter’s meticulous work cataloging the many items in the tomb greatly advanced our knowledge of ancient Egypt.  The discovery of Tut’s mummy, along with the beautiful mask of the young man’s face, and the impressive sarcophagi in which he rested undisturbed for centuries are without any doubt the most famous discoveries in all of Egyptology.  Artifacts from the tomb have been exhibited throughout the world and have inspired dozens of films and even songs.

Yet, as for the claims that Carter and others associated with the tomb were somehow cursed, well, that is mere myth

Historical Evidence

The discovery of Tut’s tomb ranks seventh on a list of the Top 10 Most Important Historical Finds.  For more information on this incredibly important find, please read the below listed books.


The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen (Egypt) (Paperback)

By (author): Howard Carter, A. C. Mace

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Matthew Zarzeczny

Matthew graduated with a B.A. in French and history from Baldwin-Wallace College. At BW, Matthew minored in political science. He earned a Master’s in History at Kent State University and a Ph.D. in History from the Ohio State University. He teaches history at Ashland University, John Carroll University, and Kent State University at Stark.

  • AH

    This discovery is very important for several reasons. For one thing, we do not know a great deal about Tut, given that he lived a very short life and as the article states, probably did not make many decisions. He did take power, however, in the aftermath of a religious revolution, and died mysteriously. Given how little we actually know about Tut, the discovery of his tomb provided context to both the historical period he lived in and the rituals and ceremonies practiced at the time, allowing us to see an undisturbed tomb laden with treasures.

  • Angela Reed

    Finding Tut’s tomb was and still is important because we didn’t know his whole story. When we found his preserved tomb, we were able to piece together the little bit of history we did know about him.

  • Joe Roskos

    This discovery was important for multiple reasons. Because the discovery was made by Howard Carter, rather than a less adept archaeologist, his methods of cataloguing and preserving the site to some extent for examination were adopted by future archaeologists. The discovery was also important because it provided great insight into the historical context of Tut, particularly how ostentatiously the Pharaohs lived. In a sense, one can imagine just how small the common people must have felt before the presence of the Pharaoh. In addition, what would Hollywood be like without the mummy as a movie monster?

  • Vanzetti

    I think it was a great find because it was not touched by grave robbers, leaving us all the “wonderful things” intact in his tomb. Carter also did archaeology a huge favor via his cataloging methods, which was revolutionary for the time. He probably had OCD.

  • KRT

    This discovery was so important because his sight had yet to be distrubed since it was build certuries before. Also since Carter had cataloged all the item so well it help historians get more insight into how the egyptians lived and more.

  • Ty Rodgers

    I think that this discovery was so important because it gave us the opportunity to learn more about the pharaoh that reinstated polytheism. Along with all the artifacts and writings found in the tomb, we also gained knowledge of King Tut’s lineage and some of his achievements during what was probably the shortest reigning pharaoh in history.

  • Justin D.

    I believe that the discovery of King Tuts tomb is important because it was not sacked by grave robbers and we got to see how it was set up and found great intact artifacts and writings that showed us what there life’s were like back then. Howard Carter and his team did a great job cataloging the items and not removing everything from the tomb keeping a lot of it as it was when he found the tomb so that we could later go back to when technology advances more to discover things they may have missed.

  • Lia Hart

    Because of the finding of King Tut’s tomb, one of the most important findings of all Egyptology was discovered. This became important because real artifacts have been distributed throughout the world for everyone to see and acknowledge. It gave the ability for everyone to understand Egyptology and recognize how amazing it truly was.

  • Breanna Davis

    This was important because of the artifacts that were discovered and became such an important part of history. They were put out around the world for people to view and learn about Egypt.

  • Elizabeth Kuhn

    The discovery was important because the tomb was found undisturbed. Many other tombs had been raided by grave robbers. Having a complete tomb allowed there to be many artifacts that were well preserved. In addition, it was also beneficial that Carter was the archaeologist in charged, because he was meticulous in the preservation and cataloging of every object.

  • Mike Oue

    This discovery was so great because it was untouched. The most important part of this is Carter logged all of these amazing artifacts. If carter did not log these many of the pieces could have gone missing and others may not have been able to make conclusions based on the logs.

  • Danielle Sharron

    This discovery was important because the tomb was found undisturbed. Also, Carter’s practice of meticulously cataloging every object in the tomb ensured that no information would be lost, and that the most accurate conclusions could be drawn from his findings.

  • Dan Heidenreich

    It was remarkable how the tomb was untouched. The shape they found the tomb in would put it up there for most important. Also, this gave other archeologists hope that their can be much more out there. It could be said that this finding paved the way for future findings.

  • J seaman

    Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb was a tremendous discovery. Not only did Carter find the undisturbed remains of an actual Egyptian Pharaoh but he also laid the foundation for documentation practices in archaeology.

  • JC

    How this was not destroyed by anything for thousands of years is astounding.

  • JLS

    Finding Tut’s tomb was an amazing discovery because his body was so well preserved for all this time as well as the condition of everything in the burial tomb. Carter set the tone for cataloging all historical artifacts for todays findings. It is so awesome to be able to view something that is that ancient and of a magnitude of importance.

  • Jake Woolf

    With graverobbing and general pillaging being problematic during Carter’s time (and even to a degree still so), discovering an untouched and untainted tomb yielded a great wealth of insight into burial practices (among other things) of the ancient Egyptians.

  • Ashley Arthur

    This story/discovery is so important because the tomb was never touched! Carter being the archaeologist was also a remarkable thing. We get to learn about the pharaoh and all of it’s history and that to me is such a wonderful discovery. There is still apart of history that hasn’t been destroyed or disrupted. Seeing other photos and learning about different building in class, we have come to realize that they have either been destroyed or recreated and too me that takes away from the history behind it. This tomb being untouched is such a remark of history and hopefully no one trys to destroy it.

  • Titus Rice

    Tutankhamun and his father Akhenaten were both murdered! I believe Akhenaten was murdered for changing the Egyptians religious views from multiple gods to just one god, Amun. Later,
    Tutankhamun was murdered out of fear for going back to his father’s religious
    view to a single god.

  • Karl Paulik

    This discovery was so important because we gained so much information from it. Most tombs found had been raided by robbers, this was untouched. The simple fact that Carter could have been the first person to be in there for possibly a thousand years makes it exciting.

  • RF

    It is exciting that Carter was able to enter the tomb after it had been many many years since the last person entered. I believe one of the Mummy movies expresses the curse of the tomb. It was King Tut and a few other famous Egyptian men and women and the stories that are told that make me want to become an archaeologist, just for the adventure and new discoveries. I think it is by this discovery and many others, why we know so much about ourselves and our history.

  • Brandon Yurick

    I believe the finding of a such a historical tomb was able to pave the way for future archaeologists, and just lets people know that there is still real life adventure and mystery to life to be found. From a history point of view it is important because it gives legitimacy and proof to historical claims.

  • cwank

    It’s amazing that a tomb can go untouched or ruined for so long. It would have been an awesome experience to be the first person to enter the tomb after all those years.

  • Rachel

    It amazes me that the tomb could go untouched for so long.

  • Connor Jamison

    With all of the grave robbers that have either destroyed or runoff with countless artifacts of Ancient Egypt, it is great to see that at least one Pharaohs tomb was left preserved. The amount that we have learned about the life of Egyptians, specifically Pharaohs has connected to the past.

  • Stephan S

    Love how some ancient practices worked so well, especially the practice of mummification. These archaeologists definitely hit the jackpot finding Tut’s tomb. Lots of rich history. Too bad for tomb thieves, they took a lot of important artifacts and sold them on the black market. Those stolen pieces would have benefited mankind more if they were in museums.

  • Kayla L

    It’s sad that some people decided to steal ancient artifacts from the Egyptian tombs of pyramids. At least King Tut’s tomb is still around and hasn’t been pried open by thieves.

  • T.Haubert

    I think it is interesting that a king who was only alive for such a short period of time is one of the most recognizable figures in ancient Egyptian history because of what was found in his tomb rather than what he did during his life span

  • Patrick V

    Archeological finds as magnificent as King Tut’s tomb make me wonder how many wondrous artifacts and pieces of history are yet to be unearthed. Although it’s not the most glamorous occupation, archeologists have given us so many glimpses into the mysterious past.

  • Jordan Minninger

    Its crazy to think that a ten year old boy could rule an empire, let alone do it for 8 years! Its a shame that he died so young. Whats even crazier is how the tomb was untouched for so many years!

  • Lucy Lin

    It’s interesting to know that King Tut gained the throne at such a young age. I could only imagine all the responsibities he must of had. Great article!

  • M Pribula

    The restraint that Carter showed in not looking inside the newly discovered tomb for a few weeks is quite amazing. I mean, with a discovery like that I don’t know if I could have restrained from looking at something that no one in the world had seen for thousands of years. I’m really impressed by Carter’s dedication to preserving the artifacts of the past in a time when that wasn’t so common a practice.

  • GB

    It was cool to hear that they were the first to discover the tomb in hundreds of years. They made a discovery they will never forget.

  • DAVID WARDLE

    What an amazing find! The will power not to look inside for a couple of weeks is remarkable! — DAVID WARDLE

  • Brendon Boxler

    a ten year old ruler is almost ridiculous to think about, and he had so much influence on the people, they even thought of him as a god Amun who took the for of the god only in an image. There is much more we haven’t discovered and knowing we only made a dent in history shows you, we do not know anything yet.

  • Cody Perotti

    It is fascinating in how such a young man “ruled” egypt. However, if Nefetiti was so beloved, why would Tutankhamun be assassinated; especially if it was suspected that he ruled under guidance.

  • Cat

    I have always found King Tut’s story, interesting. It still seems as though there is still a lot of mystery surrounding king tut. He came from a family with two great rulers of Egypt. That could be why he was a good ruler.

  • Lauren M

    It is absolutely shocking to read that he was only a child when he took the throne – I can’t imagine a ten year old ruling such an influential and developed society. I am also shocked that he was only 18 when he died, I thought that he was in power for many, many years. I am also surprised that there is no record of how he died, considering how much power he had, but it was thousands of years ago.

  • Shannon C

    It’s interesting how young he was and how the tomb was untouched for so long. Although it was perfectly preserved, there was no evidence to what killed him? Seems pretty weird.

  • Michelle tuck

    i think it it amazing how small pieces of the puzzle we call history are still being uncovered everyday. I am also amazed at how advanced the early Egyptians were.

  • Alysha K

    It is hard to believe that the people of Egypt would allow someone so young (10) to rule, even if he did not make any decisions on his own. King Tut’s story is a mysterious one. That being said, I am surprised Carter was patient enough to wait weeks before looking inside the tomb.

  • Sun Lee

    Ancient Egyptian history is always very interesting to me. This article gave a lot of insight on the many cultural aspects of Egyptian history, as well as interesting finds and the importance of these finds. I thought it was amazing that from this one simple (although not so simple) find gave so many things for people to learn.

  • Alexander Evenhuis

    I had a feeling that this was a myth. A curse that eventually kills those who enter the tomb? Nonsense.

    Additionally, it seems odd that King Tut took the throne at such a young age. It makes more sense to have someone with more life experience lead a civilization.

  • JMD

    It must have taken a lot of patience for Carter not to look in the tomb till weeks after discovering it

  • Leah Silvestri

    The fact that King Tut was barely an adult when he took the throne from his famous parents is incredibly remarkable. Also I find it very interesting that the cause of his death is somewhat of a mystery. I would think that no one would want to murder the son that came from two great and respected rulers of Egypt.

  • Alex

    It was really interesting to me that Tut’s father focused worship on just the sun god, even though polytheism was alive and well in ancient Egypt. It makes me think that this may have sparked the beginning of monotheistic religions.

  • S Eilerman

    Very interesting how King Tut’s tomb was untouched for so long. I can’t even imagine how many things archaeologists are still yet to find.

  • Trevor

    With the excessive amounts of grave robbery that occurred throughout the history of Egypt raises the question why this particular tomb was untouched. Was it hidden well? Did the legend of curse deter grave robbers? Very interesting.

  • E.S.

    It is amazing that King Tut had such a little role in Egypt, but yet the discovery of his tomb and his mummified body was such a phenomenon!!! It is also amazing how everything in his tomb was untouched for centuries.

  • Andrew (Drew) K.

    I found two things in this article interesting…
    1. I thought that the push for this “sun driven monotheism” by Tut’s father was pretty interesting. I wonder what inspired that.
    2. I thought that it was fascinating how influential the discovery of one tomb was in advancing our knowledge of ancient Egypt.

  • MO

    I think it is interesting that Tut took the throne at such a young age but it makes sense that he did not make the decisions on his own since he was so young. I have no clue how Carter had the patience to wait a couple weeks after his historic find to actually look inside.

  • Nikki Buzalka

    This article sparked my interest on this subject because of the age of Tut when he was King. Comparing to todays society, nobody at that age has that kind of power, which is something that suggests more maturity of those at a young at in Egypt back then.

  • Reese

    It was interesting to learn that Tut’s father had a monotheistic belief, especially in a time period where polytheism was of the norm. I also can’t imagine what it would be like to be 9 or 10 years old and be forced to take the throne.

  • Angelina Huber

    I think it was extremely interesting that Carter found so many different types of artifacts in the tomb. It definitely was a huge insight into ancient Egyptian culture, and has had a huge impact on our society today. There have been many different movies, songs, and TV shows that have incorporated some type of Egyptian culture such as mummies, tombs as well as beautiful and expensive artifacts.

  • Matthew Oswald

    I found it very interesting that King Tut ascended to his those at only the age of 9 or 10 and then died at only 18 years of age. I never knew that before.

  • Rachael Harrington

    I find it very interesting that the archeologist did not
    explore King Tut’s tomb earlier, considering he is now such an important Egyptian
    figure that everyone knows. Also interesting to note that he was so young when he ruled and died perhaps the result of incest.

  • Josh Greiner

    I found it very interesting that he rose to power at such a young age and also died young, yet he still left a lasting impression on future generations.

  • Jacob Benedict

    I find it interesting that even though he didn’t do much as ruler and died at such a young age he is one of the most well know Egyptian pharaohs.

  • Alex Colucy

    I never realized how young he actually was when he came into power

  • Vince Ziccardi

    What I thought was most interesting about King Tut was that he was only thirteen years old as a pharaoh; I always imagined him as a man ranging between 20-30 years old. I’m still trying to understand why people always put so much emphasis on King Tut but none of the other existing pharaohs. Is it because King Tut is all we know about?

  • Claire Loffarelli

    I found it very interesting that he came to such a high power at such a young age, and died mysteriously.

  • Amanda Evaleen Lint

    Loved learning about this when i was younger and even today i still find it sooooo interesting