Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation.
A. C. Mace's personal diary of the first excavation season
in the tomb of Tutankhamun
December 27, 1922 to May 13, 1923

© David Orr

All enquiries to Griffith Institute, Oxford OX1 2LG

Concept and editing: Jaromir Malek
Transcript: Sue Hutchison
Checking of transcript: Elizabeth Miles and Jaromir Malek

The diary takes up nineteen pages of a 'Graphic Bank Book' notebook measuring some 18.3 by 12.7 cms. It is the property of Mr David Orr who has kindly given permission to make it available on the web pages of the Griffith Institute. The diary is currently on loan to the Archive of the Griffith Institute.

Wednesday, December 27, 1922.

First box (21) moved out of tomb. Contained bead garments and sandals. Treated bad joint with balsam and removed two sandals.

Thursday, December 28, 1922.

Working on painted box (21)

Friday, December 29, 1922.

" " " "

Saturday, December 30, 1922.

Box 50 brought out, cont. cloth and sticks.

Sunday, December 31, 1922.

Noting cloth garments from 50, shirts, loin cloths etc. Tapestry weaving.

Monday, January 1, 1923.

Noting sticks from Box 50 etc.

Wednesday, January 3, 1923.

Box 50 almost finished. Plunderers had stripped gold bands from sticks, and broken off all arrow heads. Why was linen replaced ? On a bed, near this box there were other similar staves. ? did this box contain originally only staves, and was linen packed in on top by priests. In that case which box was linen originally in?

Thursday, January 4, 1923.

Gardiner over doing inscriptions. Finished & put away Box 50. Started working on collar from lid of 54. This saturated with salt: first thing so far affected that way.

Friday, January 5, 1923.

Noted collar: spread out and put in water to soak. ? how did salt get on lid of box.
Started on Box 54.

Saturday, January 6, 1923.

Removed part of bead garment from Box 21. Noted order of bead bands. Below this full of sandals. These badly stuck together.

Sunday, January 7, 1923.

Working almost entirely on Box 21. Quite evident from state of this that plunderers had turned it upside down. Beaded robe in too bad a condition to save, so decided to preserve parts in wax, and reconstruct whole on new cloth.

Monday, January 8, 1923.

Working in tomb in morning waxing a bead hassock and sandal. In afternoon on Box 21. From state of tomb evident that plunderers had left the place all topsy turvy, & that the Priests had made a hasty and superficial tidy up, cramming things into any box, regardless of former arrangement.

Tuesday, January 9, 1923.

Market day. Worked out the system of threading fine bands of beadwork.

Wednesday, January 10, 1923.

Took up beadwork hassock today. Came out pretty solid, but will need a lot of treatment. Crowds of tourists and pressmen. Otherwise working on Box 21. Contents a hay pie, jumbled up anyhow.

Thursday, January 11, 1923.

Working on garments in Box 21. Also noted imitation skin stool.

Friday, January 12, 1923.

Finally worked out border patterns of the bead robe. Took out and noted one of the ducks' head sandals. Part of this sandal was bent, showing the force with which the contents had been pushed down into the box.

Saturday, January 13, 1923.

Working on other bead sandals in Box 21. Visit from Lacau.

Sunday, January 14, 1923.

Waxed the lid of the painted box. Got out rest of the sandals, the amber necklace, and some more of the cloth. Handed in an article for the Times.

Monday, January 15, 1923.

Finished waxing lid of Box 21. Still removing robes, at least five with gold spangles. These probably represent, with a robe in Box 54 the state robes.

Tuesday, January 16, 1923.

Market Day. Stacked and did beads.

Wednesday, January 17, 1923.

Got up iron door on our work tomb. Visit from four native ministers and their wives. Delayed working on Box 21 for a photograph, so noted some odd stools etc.

Thursday, January 18, 1923.

Cleared some cloth from top of one of the beds, and found remains of a collar underneath. Working on that part of the morning. Rest of the day noting stools etc.

Friday, January 19, 1923.

Finished noting collar in tomb. Found Box 21 had a false bottom, so was able to lift all rest of contents out together. Remains of tapestry woven garment with name of Tutankhamon.

Saturday, January 20, 1923.

Waxed main part of Box 21, has been able to lift out remainder of contents on false bottom.

Sunday, January 21, 1923.

Finally separated out all the contents of Box 21. Found among the cloths a child's glove of cloth.

Monday, January 22, 1923.

All day in the tomb working on one of the large beds. Took it apart in the afternoon ready to take out.

Tuesday, January 23, 1923.

Market Day.

Wednesday, January 24, 1923.

Finished waxing first bed (cows) and helped take it out.

Thursday, January 25, 1923.

Finished waxing Box 21 & put it away. To Cairo in evening.

Friday, January 26, 1923.


Saturday, January 27, 1923.

Left by evening train.

Sunday, January 28, 1923.

Back to lunch. Over to Valley in afternoon.

Monday, January 29, 1923.

Worked out from decoration fact that so called Queen's robe must have been that of a child. May have been the King's as a boy when for some reason - circumcision or to avoid evil eye - he was dressed as a girl. No doubt that several of the garments in the box were those of a child.

Tuesday, January 30, 1923.

Market day.

Wednesday, January 31, 1923.

Treated second bed in the tomb with wax. In afternoon Lythgoes and Carnarvons over to see things in Tomb 15. Burton photographing cloth garments etc. from Box 21.

Thursday, February 1, 1923.

Helped carry out second bed. Photography & notes of Box 21 almost finished.

Friday, February 2, 1923.

Still working last ends of Box 21

Saturday, February 3, 1923.

Finished all noting of Box 21.

Sunday, February 4, 1923.

Cleared a few things out of top of Box 54, and sprayed tapestry woven garment underneath. Noted & photographed bed, two bows etc.

Sir William Garstin & others.

Monday, February 5, 1923.

Removed upper layer from Box 54, including the tapestry woven robe with scarab on breast.

Below a very elaborate corselet.

Some of the child garments in Box 21 had the King's cartouche on. ? was Tutankhamen only a young boy when he came to the throne. His wife at time of Akhnaton's death cannot have been more than eleven.

Tuesday, February 6, 1923.

Market day.

Wednesday, February 7, 1923.

Cleaning corselet in Box 54. Also photographed sandals.

Sir John & Lady Maxwell.

Thursday, February 8, 1923.

Almost all day on the corselet.

Friday, February 9, 1923.

Finished cleaning Box 54. Docket on lid said 17 ? of lapis lazuli. There were 15 blue glaze ewers, but two additional stoppers. Also other gl. vases, 2 beautiful statuettes, one of blue glass, the other of crystalline limestone, a large scarab of blue glass and gold, & various other objects. All in confusion. Pieces of objects not belonging to this box at all, including a piece of a chariot.

Saturday, February 10, 1923.

Working on objects from Box 54

Sunday, February 11, 1923.

Most of the day on corselet. Also got contents of gold shrine photographed.

Monday, February 12, 1923.

Took jewellery from shrine of gold & found that most of it belonged to the corselet. The De Fousts and party over for one night.

Tuesday, February 13, 1923.

Market Day. Went to valley in afternoon to show the Macys & others over.

Wednesday, February 14, 1923.

Spent most of the morning in the tomb treating the last bed. Rest of day in 15, treating throne and working out corselet. Latter turns out to be a combination of corselet & collar, with pectoral.

Thursday, February 15, 1923.

Most of day showing visitors over Tomb 15. Gardiner, Breasted and Bull arrived.

Friday, February 16, 1923.

Helped Carter take down sealed door. Present - Carnarvon & Lady Evelyn, S.W. Garstin, Breasted, Gardiner, Lacau, Lythgoe, Winlock, Burton, Lucas, Callender, Engelbach, Bethell, native Under Secretary of State & a few others.

Saturday, February 17, 1923.

Most of day in Tomb, clearing up ready for formal opening tomorrow.

Sunday, February 18, 1923.

Garden party day. Spent most of it in the tomb showing visitors the new chamber. Queen of the Belgians, Allenbys & dozens more.

Monday, February 19, 1923.

All day in 15 working on beads.

Tuesday, February 20, 1923.

Market Day.

Wednesday, February 21, 1923.

Stream of visitors all the morning. Queen of the Belgians in the afternoon.

Thursday, February 22, 1923.

Visitors practically all day. Impossible to do any work.

Friday, February 23, 1923.

Crowd of Egyptologists in morning. Finished corselet in afternoon.

Saturday, February 24, 1923.

Again a crowd all day, including Blumenthal and the Macys.

Sunday, February 25, 1923.

Began noting & packing objects from Box 54

Monday, February 26, 1923.

Wrote to Morning Post re false statements about us. Tomb closed & filled in.

Tuesday, February 27, 1923.

Worked half day in Valley, then closed down for a week.

Wednesday, February 28 - Tuesday, March 6, 1923.

On holiday at Assuan.

Wednesday, March 7, 1923.

Finished noting objects from Box 54 & packed all away. Started clearing Box 44. Found wrapped in a corner of a cloth a number of massive gold rings. The plunderer who was taking these away must have been caught in the act, as he would never have dropped a thing like that if he were running.

Thursday, March 8, 1923.

Photographed & cleaned rings (8 + 2 scarabs). Also took out from same box large gold & lapis scarab, panther skin robe & other objects.

Friday, March 9, 1923.

Box nearly finished. Heq sceptre of gold & blue glass, robe with sequins, robe with network of beads & sequins. Also two model adzes. ? what were these doing in the tomb? Do any really belong to a F.D. which was never deposited.

Queen of Belgians to see a box opened - one of the black shrines. Proved to contain a nome animal on standard. This explains all the other black shrines in innermost chamber. We shall probably get a complete outfit of all the nomes.

Saturday, March 10, 1923.

Box 44 finished clearing. Now have the objects to note. Carter working on alabasters. Finished article for the Times.

Sunday, March 11, 1923.

Noting contents of Box 44. Cloth in which rings were looks suspiciously like a mummy wrapping. Quite possible that burial has been rifled after all.

Monday, March 12, 1923.

Still on Box 44. Model adze with cartouches of Amenhotep and Thy.

Tuesday, March 13, 1923.

Market Day.

Wednesday, March 14, 1923.

Still clearing & packing contents of Box 44. Carnarvon departed.

Thursday, March 15, 1923.

Working on garments, from Box 44. Found that what had been considered tapestry weaving was really applied.

Friday, March 16, 1923.

Still working on robes from Box 44.

Saturday, March 17, 1923.

Compared and noted the various linen gauntlets. Believe them to be driving gloves. One was lined with very warm material.

Sunday, March 18, 1923.

Cleared and noted Box 43. Contained mostly loin cloths, but also a pair of gloves in good condition, this time reaching to wrist only.

Monday, March 19, 1923.

Clearing up various odds & ends in first bay of Tomb 15.

Tuesday, March 20, 1923.

Market Day. Carter went to Cairo.

Wednesday, March 21, 1923.

Noting and sorting all sorts of objects in first bay of Tomb 15.

Thursday, March 22, 1923.

Noted all sandals & baskets, fly-whisks & a number of other objects. Sandals are all sizes from quite a small child to a full sized man.

Friday, March 23, 1923.

Most of the day waxing and treating various objects.

Saturday, March 24, 1923.

Treated bead footstool, noted candles & various other things.

Sunday, March 25, 1923.

Noting oddments & helping Burton with photography.

Position of one of the stools showed that officials had put the chariot wheels in their present place after the plundering.

Monday, March 26, 1923.

First bay of tomb practically finished. Ready to start next week on boxes in second bay.

Tuesday, March 27, 1923.

Market Day. Went to Luxor.

Wednesday, March 28, 1923.

Cleared bandbox. Contained a mass of small cloths mixed up in a jumble - some loin cloths, but mostly bandages, both folded and rolled. Started work also on painted alabaster box. Lucas to Cairo.

Thursday, March 29, 1923.

Almost finished clearing Band-box - two gauntlets, one large, one a child's, a finger-stall and quantities of bandages of all kinds - surely a medical outfit.

Friday, March 30, 1923.

Two of the gauntlets in bandbox turned out to be an archer's glove for left hand, with stalls for 1st finger & thumb, and a flap between to protect juncture & for arrow to slide over. One was a man's, the other a child's.

Cleared also White Box. Had been a toilet box with compartments, but contents all gone.

Saturday, March 31, 1923.

Working on large bundles of cloth from top of one of the couches, mostly loin cloths.

Sunday, April 1, 1923.

2nd bundle of cloth, containing leopard skin, gloves, necklaces etc. i.e. floor sweepings made into bundles.

Monday, April 2, 1923.

Most of the day working on collars, four having turned up inside the bundles.

Tuesday, April 3, 1923.

Market Day. Visiting tombs in afternoon.

Wednesday, April 4, 1923.

Finished the bundles from the top of the bed, absolutely miscellaneous sweepings all of them, including a great number of gauntlets.

Thursday, April 5, 1923.

News came of Carnarvon's death. Started working on big white trunk. Puzzle why some linen perishes while other actually touching it does not. Must be a question of original quality of the thread work.

Friday, April 6, 1923.

Finished clearing white trunk - robes, shawls etc. Just a handful of stuff collected by officials and thrown back into the box.

Saturday, April 7, 1923.

All cloth from white trunk noted.

Sunday, April 8, 1923.

Noting oddments, including stick with elaborate granular gold work. ? this put on with glove, and not soldered.

Monday, April 9, 1923.

Cleared and noted the large gable-end box. This contained only alab. vases & various oddments thrown carelessly in: barely covering floor. Nothing to show what original contents were.

Tuesday, April 10, 1923.

Finished noting contents of box etc.

Market Day, but carried on.

Wednesday, April 11, 1923.

Found that so-called 'child's tippet' was really a head covering in the form of a protective bird with wings stretched out behind. Also not tapestry - woven but applied stripes of colour.

Thursday, April 12, 1923.

Noting sticks & various oddments.

Friday, April 13, 1923.

Noting sticks all day.

Saturday, April 14, 1923.

Noting various oddments & started on travelling booth.

Sunday, April 15, 1923.

Cleared and noted second black shrine. Contained a second nome standard of Aphroditopolis. Also working out travelling booth.

Monday, April 16, 1923.

Carter came back. Noting sticks from top of bed, captives, compound bows, arrows etc.

Tuesday, April 17, 1923.

Market Day. Tea & dinner with Carter, to talk over future plans.

Wednesday, April 18, 1923.

Lacau turned up. Noting sticks & Bows. One of them had cartouche with Aten.

Thursday, April 19, 1923.

Noting compound bows all day.

Friday, April 20, 1923.

Clearing first bay, & still noting bows. Two more had Aten cartouches.

Visit from Princess of Abyssinia, & a mob of retainers.

Saturday, April 21, 1923.

Still noting sticks.

Sunday, April 22, 1923.

Finished the last batch of sticks and bows.

Winlocks left.

Monday, April 23, 1923.

Sorted all the sticks & cleared up generally.

Mrs Burton left.

Tuesday, April 24, 1923.

Market Day. Spent morning at Carter's working on book.

Wednesday, April 25, 1923.

Waxing mannequin. Started also on chariot material.

Thursday, April 26, 1923.

Finished mannequin, other odd jobs.

Friday, April 27, 1923.

Waxing seat of throne & noting chariot material.

Saturday, April 28, 1923.

Waxing & noting faience box & noting chariot material.

Sunday, April 29, 1923.

Completed register of objects. Now ready to start packing.

Monday, April 30, 1923.

Took day off on account of Carnarvon Memorial Service. Working on Book. Went round to Carter in afternoon.

Tuesday, May 1, 1923.

Stayed at home writing. Thermometer just on 110.

Wednesday, May 2, 1923.

Started packing.

Lucas to Cairo.

Thursday, May 3, 1923.

Packing all day: small stuff nearly finished.

Friday, May 4, 1923.

Stayed home to pack & do accounts. Lunched with Carter to meet Merton.

Saturday, May 5, 1923.

Left Burton to lock up house & moved round to Carter's. Burton left for Cairo.

Sunday, May 6, 1923.

Packing all day.

Monday, May 7, 1923.

Packed sticks etc.

Tuesday, May 8, 1923.

Market Day, but carried on.

Wednesday, May 9, 1923.

Packed stools & shrines.

Thursday, May 10, 1923.

Finished actual packing about 90 cases. Some of the smaller cases still to be crated, and inventory made.

Friday, May 11, 1923.

Made complete inventory of cases.

Saturday, May 12, 1923.

Sorted negatives all day.

Sunday, May 13, 1923.

Stayed at home to write. All cases loaded on trucks ready to start in morning.

© David Orr

(December 20, 2001)

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