Ricardo Barros

Ricardo Barros

What: When Howard Carter ­discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in late 1922, he immediately telegraphed his financial backer in England, Lord Carnarvon, who came running along with his daughter, ­Evelyn Herbert. All three were ­present when Carter broke a little hole in the tomb’s doorway. “Can you see anything?” asked ­Carnarvon. “Yes, wonderful things,” Carter ­tremblingly replied.

The public opening in March 1923 was attended by dignitaries who signed this album, owned by the American wife of British general John Grenfell Maxwell. ­Herbert’s autograph appears twice on the page, at upper right and halfway down on the left; Carnarvon’s at upper left – complete with hieroglyphic.  

This may have been among Carnarvon’s last signatures. After nicking a mosquito bite on his cheek while shaving, he grew ill, then died April 5 in a Cairo hotel. As he breathed his last, power went out all over the city, which even the hard-bitten Maxwell found “curious.” The rumor of a mummy’s curse was born.

Lately, the curse has hit Carter’s reputation. Earlier this year, German Egyptologists claimed that he stole from Tut’s tomb, then feigned ransacking by ancient looters.

Where: Sir John Grenfell Maxwell Papers, Box 28, Rare Books and Special ­Collections, Firestone Library