Howard Carter's collection of lantern slides

Howard Carter's numerous lectures on the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun were accompanied by black-and-white lantern slides made from Harry Burton's photographs. Carter's slide collection, altogether 639 items, is housed in a twelve-drawer wooden filing cabinet which is kept in the Archive of the Griffith Institute (catalogued as TAA i.8). Each slide measures about 8.2 cm (3 1/4 in) by 8.2 cm (3 1/4 in).

Recently all the lantern slides have been checked by Elizabeth Fleming in order to establish whether they contain Burton photographs which are not preserved as negatives or prints. The results are interesting and the exercise has certainly been worthwhile.

Eight images have been added to Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation. They show objects Carter 021, 054k, 207, 235a, 240, 253, 261m, 275, 276, 277, 278, 283, 285, 287, 288, 289, 290, 293, 297, 306, 307, 308 and 310. The order of the lantern slides below is as follows: p0076aLS, p0603aLS, p0649bLS, p0686aLS, p0687aLS, p0689aLS, p0893LS and p0898aLS.

Four among these are new and interesting: the view of the first (outer) shrine (p0603aLS), the Treasury with objects in situ (p0898aLS), the pectorals (p0893LS) and the sarcophagus with the first (outer) coffin (p0649bLS); the last, unfortunately, is poorly preserved. The lantern slide with a scene on the painted box (p0076aLS) is of indifferent quality. The images of the figure of Tutankhamun on top of a stick (p0686aLS, p0687aLS and p0689aLS) are derivative and details of photographs of the whole object.

One lantern slide (pKV97xLS) shows the exterior of the tomb of Tutankhamun seen from the north. Unfortunately, the slide is damaged and so only the well preserved part of it has been incorporated into the gallery of such photographs.

There are also three colour slides. These are not examples of Harry Burton's lost colour photographs but hand-coloured versions of his black-and-white images. The colouring was probably done by Reginald A. Malby but the choice of colours is somewhat imaginative and not very faithful.

The slides show the arm rest of the 'throne', one of the lamps and the upper part of the first (outermost) coffin.

(April 18, 2006)

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