Tutankhamun: Exhibiting the archive

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 23 May 2023

An exhibition of archival material relating to the discovery of the tomb of the ancient Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun is being held at the the British Embassy in Cairo

King Tut



Last year marked 100 years since British archaeologist Howard Carter and his Egyptian and British team discovered the tomb of the ancient Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun.

To commemorate the discovery that captured the world’s attention at the time and afterwards, the British Embassy in Cairo in collaboration with the Griffith Institute at the University of Oxford is hosting a high-profile archival exhibition telling the story of Carter’s excavation of the tomb and the worldwide fascination with the Egyptological discovery of the century.

It focuses on the archive of Carter’s papers and documents stored at the Griffith Institute in Oxford. Many of these materials have never been exhibited before in Egypt but were previously on display at Oxford’s Bodleian Library under the title “Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive”.

Visitors to the embassy are able to gain close insights into one of the world’s most famous archaeological discoveries through studying the archival collection of Carter’s photographs, letters, plans, cards, drawings and diaries of the tomb. The exhibition brings to life the story of the discovery, excavation, documentation and conservation of the boy king’s final resting place

At the opening of the exhibition, British Ambassador to Egypt Gareth Bayley said that the exhibition celebrating the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb was to have been organised last year, but the celebration today marked 100 years since the arrival of the tomb’s treasured collection at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. It also paid homage to the British-Egyptian team that found the intact tomb.

The intact tomb of Tutankhamun, an 18th-Dynasty Pharaoh, in the Valley of the Kings,  discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, is considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made. Yet, despite the treasures it contained, the tomb is quite modest compared to other tombs at the site in both size and decoration.

The complete collection will soon be put on display for the first time at the Grand Egyptian Museum in special galleries. It reflects the life and death of the king, including clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, incense, furniture, chairs, toys, vessels made of a variety of materials, chariots, and weapons.


A version of this article appears in print in the 25 May, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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