New evidence reveals that Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb, may have stolen treasure.
Howard Carter and his team were the first to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb, the most famous Egyptian tomb ever discovered, in 1922. The tomb was large, containing hundreds of treasures including gilded beds, miniature golden statues, and elaborate amulets designed to protect the dead in their final resting place.
However, rumors circulated that Carter had taken more than just fame from the discovery between the time he entered the tomb and Egyptian officials opened the tomb.
A previously unseen letter has now emerged, alleging that Mr Carter may have stolen some items from the site. According to The Guardian, Mr Carter showed Sir Alan a “whm amulet” and apparently assured him that it had not come from Tutankhamun’s tomb.
The whm amulet is assumed to be an offering to the dead, buried with the Pharaoh because the Egyptians believed the dead could be supported by riches, as well as acting as offerings to the gods.
Despite Carter’s claims, recent evidence suggests that the amulet was most likely stolen from the tomb. According to previously unpublished letters, Gardiner got it appraised by museum expert Rex Engelbach and was shocked to discover the amulet was almost certainly stolen.
“The whm amulet you showed me has been undoubtedly stolen from the tomb of Tutankhamun,” states Engelbach’s verdict.
In a letter to Mr. Carter, he enclosed the director’s verdict. It read: “The whm amulet you showed me has been undoubtedly stolen from the tomb of Tutankhamun.”
Despite the obvious guilt placed on him by owning a stolen artifact, he stated that he never disclosed Engelbach how he obtained the amulet.
“I deeply regret having been placed in so awkward a position,” Sir Alan wrote to Mr Carter. “I naturally did not tell Engelbach [the director] that I obtained the amulet from you.”
The letters will be published by Oxford University Press in a new book titled Tutankhamun and the Tomb that Changed the World.
Following Carter’s death, 18 objects from the tomb were found in his collection. Fearing damage to relations between England and Egypt, the objects were sold discreetly to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; all items have now been returned to Egypt.