Howard Carter: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Howard Carter, the English archaeologist who discovered the tomb of Tutankhmun.

  • Howard Carter was born on 9th May 1874 in Kensington, London.
  • His father, Samuel John Carter, was an artist.

  • As a child, Howard Carter was often unwell, and he spent a lot of time in Swaffham in Norfolk.
  • He was home-schooled.
  • When he was 17 years old, Carter worked in Egypt as an archaeological artist. He produced drawings and diagrams of important Ancient Egyptian finds and sites for the Egypt Exploration Fund.
  • In 1899 he was made first inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service. He supervised a number of archaeological excavations, and carried out several excavations of his own – discovering the tombs of Thutmose I and Thutmose III.
  • In 1907, Lord Carnarvon, a wealthy English aristocrat, hired Howard Carter to lead an excavation of an Ancient Egyptian tomb.
  • In 1914, Lord Carnarvon obtained the right to dig on site KV62. This was the supposed location of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and Howard Carter was chosen to manage the project.
  • Carter put together a team of workers, but the outbreak of World War 1 interrupted the project. Work resumed in 1917 and carried on for several years.
  • In 1922, frustrated that the tomb of Tutankhamun had not yet been discovered, Lord Carnarvon said he was going to stop funding the excavation in a years time if more progress wasn’t made.
  • On 4th November 1922, one of Howard Carter’s team discovered a stone step in the sand. A whole flight of steps was soon revealed, and they led to Tutanhhamun’s tomb.
  • The tomb was sealed by a stone door, and on 26th November 1922 Howard Carter chiseled a small hole in the door and looked inside. In response to a question by Lord Carnarvon, Carter famously said he could see ‘wonderful things’ within the antechamber.
Howard Carter
Howard Carter opens the tomb of Tutankhamun
  • Howard Carter spent months drawing, cataloging and removing the artefacts, many of them made from gold, from the antechamber before he opened the door from the antechamber to Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.
  • The burial chamber contained the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun.
  • Tutankhamun’s tomb was the most well-preserved pharoah’s tomb to have been found in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and Carter worked on it until 1932.
  • Howard Carter became a celebrity and he toured the US, lecturing about his finds.
  • Howard Carter died on 2nd March 1939, aged 64. He was suffering from lymphoma.
  • Lord Carnarvon died from an infected mosquito bite on 5th April 1923. This led to newspapers talking about the ‘curse of the pharaohs’ causing the deaths of those who disturb the mummy of an Ancient Egytpian pharaoh. Howard Carter himself didn’t believe in the existence of a curse, and nor do most modern historians.

What next? Discover more Ancient Egyptian facts by visiting our Ancient Egyptian resources page.

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