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