Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation.
Howard Carter's journal.
The third excavation season in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
January 19 to March 31, 1925

© Griffith Institute, Oxford OX1 2LG

Concept and direction: Jaromir Malek
Transcript: Sue Hutchison
Editing: Ana I. Navajas Jimenez and Jaromir Malek
Scanning: Hana Navrátilová
Image editing: Jenni Navratil

The journal has been scanned with the financial support of the Manchester Ancient Egypt Society

[Note: all dates have been standardized.]

This journal is typewritten, except for the last entry which is in Howard Carter's hand. It is in a large ring-binder (Walker's Loose-Leaf Books, 33 by 21.5 cm) entitled Notes, Diary, and Articles, Referring to the Theban Royal Necropolis and the Tomb of Tutankhamen (catalogued in the Griffith Institute Archive as TAA Archive i.2.1), on pages 137-47.

The transcript presented here has been only very slightly edited, for example by correcting misspellings and eliminating duplication or omission of words. For easier reading, such cases are not marked but scans of the pages of these diaries may be consulted for details.


January 19, 1925.

Arrived Luxor from Cairo.

Remained the day at the Winter Palace.

Called upon Tewfik Eff. Boulos the present Insp. in Chief of the Antiquity Depart.

Called upon the Bey the Marmur of Luxor.

January 20, 1925.

Callender returned from Erment.

We crossed over to Gurna 11am.

Called on Lythgoe.

January 21, 1925.

Saw Merzbach in the afternoon, when we sent wires to the Min. P.W.D. and Bedawi Pasha re opening the Tomb if possible on Saturday (24th).

January 22, 1925.

Went to the Valley of the Kings with Merzbach and his wife in the morning.

We found the Tomb to be covered with about 50 c/ms of rubbish. The kiosk and material removed and placed before the entrance of the Akh.en.Aten Cache, that we used for a dark-room.

We found the entrance of the laboratory (tomb No. 15) covered with a construction of a kind of lattice-work completely plastered over with white plaster. I trust the painted sculpture of the door-jambs of the tomb has not been damaged by the plaster.

We found that beautiful linen pall that covered the King's grave, and for which I brought out Dr Alexander Scott, Mr and Mrs Newberry from England especially to preserve it and had made a special lining for it, left out in the open unprotected from the sun and wind. It is ruined! They had removed the carpenters' kiosk and placed it on the pall.

The magazine (No. 4) from all outward appearances seems to be alright. In the place of my locks (broken) a pad-lock was fixed upon the door. A wooden sun-screen was erected before half of the entrance.

January 23, 1925.

Merzbach came over this morning, and we with Callender went to the Valley.

Baraize began clearing the entrance of the Tomb at about 11.15am. and completed it at 4pm.

H.E. the Mudir of Keneh accompanied by the Bey the Marmur of Luxor called 12.45, just as we were leaving to meet him at Luxor. We lunched together at the Winter Palace.

Merzbach was informed by phone or wire from Cairo that the official handing over of the Tomb and laboratory, etc., would take place on Sunday (25th) 10am.

January 24, 1925.

Received telegraphic authorisation for opening the tomb from the Minister of Public Works.

Went into Luxor 3.30pm. when I handed the above message to Merzbach and informed the Mudir of Keneh.

Returned with Callender in the evening.

January 25, 1925.

The Tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen, the laboratory and magazine together with the keys were handed over to me this morning by the Government Commission comprising the following people: -

M.E. Abd el Hamid Bedawi Pasha, Conseiller Royale.
H.E. Osman Bey the Mudir of Keneh.
Mohamed Riad Bey of the Legal Depart. P.W. Ministry.
The Bey the Marmur of Luxor.
Two representatives of the Police.
Tewfik Effendi Boulos, Insp. in Chief Up. Eg. of the Ant. Dept.
Ibrehim Effendi Habbeeb, Insp. of Antiquities, Luxor.
Mr. J.E. Quibell, of the Cairo Museum. Conseiller Services des Antiquités.
M. Lefebvre, of the Cairo Museum. (G. Lefebvre, Conservateur-Adjoint)
M. Baraize, of the Cairo Museum. Dir. de travaux. S des A.
Maitre G. Merzbach and Mr. A.R. Callender were present.

Everything was found to be in order, with the exception of the pall which was ruined, it having been left out in the open exposed to the summer heat and wind.

A heavy wooden construction had been erected in the antechamber of the tomb for visitors.

This will have to be removed before we can do any work there.

We all returned to Luxor for lunch at the Winter Palace. I remained in Luxor that night having to attend a dinner given by H.E. the Mudir of Keneh.

January 26, 1925.

Returned to my house in Gurna.

Went with Callender to the Tomb and inspected the great coffin of the King.

Attended to various correspondence during the afternoon.

January 27, 1925.

TOMB opened for the following visitors:

Sir Hamar and Lady Greenwood (introduced by Lord Allenby)
Princess Mounira Hamdi and suite (Ministry permit)
Dr Munthe (introduced by Mr Carter).

January 28, 1925.

Work commenced today in preparing the laboratory ready for the preservation work upon the objects there from last season's work.

Tewfik Effendi Boulos came, and we discussed the question of visitors to tomb. It was decided that no visitor should be allowed to enter or visit the tomb, whether Government invite or otherwise, except on Tuesdays, unless there be some exceptional reason or some exceptional case, when I am to refer it to the Chief Inspector who will refuse entry if he has not received special instructions from the Government.

With regard to the latter point, i.e., exceptional cases, Tewfik Effendi is writing for instructions.

January 29, 1925.

Commenced upon the preservation of an ebony stick inlaid with ivory.

Arranged with Burton with regard to photographing the royal coffin on Thursday next.

General Haking and Admiral Jellicoe together with party visited the tomb - they being introduced by H.E. the Min. P.W.D.

January 30, 1925.

Repaired an ivory and ebony veneered stick (no. 227a).

Callender sorted and arranged the timber and various materials that had been removed by the Antiquity Depart. The mass of the timber has been rendered useless, it being warped from careless stacking.

Shaban Effendi, the Museum delegate, endeavoured to get me to show his friends the tomb today - though they hadn't any permits.

For the first time we had a quiet morning's work without being disturbed by visitors.

A good many tools, left in the antechamber, are missing.

January 31, 1925.

Completed the preservation of curved stick No. 227a, recorded it, and sorted the remainder of the sticks from the outer shrine preparatory to their being photographed.

Merzbach came about 10.30am. when I signed the new concession - one for the Government, the other for us. Showed Madame Merzbach the Tomb. They returned to Luxor 12.15.

Callender completed the sorting of materials etc., and prepared the magazine No. 4. for lunching in as formerly.


February 1, 1925.

Commenced upon the reparations of the gold fan inlayed with turquiose, lapis lazuli and carnelian glass. The palm of the fan, made of sheet gold upon an inferior wood, had buckled badly. I fear too much so to ever hope of making a neat job of it.

Callender continued clearing and putting to rights the magazine, and also prepared a platform beside the sarcophagus for Burton to photo from.

Merzbach and his wife left for Cairo.

Lacau arrived at Luxor. It is reported that he will go on southwards tomorrow.

February 2, 1925.

Completed fan (245) and commenced the second golden fan (242).

Lucas arrived and commenced the reparation of the black resinous goose.

Lacau visited Deir el Bahari.

February 3, 1925.

Completed the golden fan (242). Commenced the bows found beside the shrines.

Admitted to Tomb Baronne de Szilassy, Comte André de Contades, as well as some Government guests.

No work in the afternoon.

February 4, 1925.

Cleaned the coffin lying in the sarcophagus with warm water and ammonia. It was astonishing what an accummulation of deposit from moisture there was upon its surfaces, particularly on the glass inlay, which seemed to be most affected, even though the great stone lid had been carefully closed and the cracks cemented. It would suggest that there was moisture or dampness in the coffin or coffins themselves when they were deposited in the sarcophagus.

Provisional cleaning though it was, under somewhat difficult circumstances, it well repaid for the trouble. The inlay shows up splendidly and one is now able to realize the beauty of the work, especially the uraeus upon the forehead which is really a magnificent piece of work.

I examined the shrouds or linen sheets that covered the coffin. They were two in number, one, a very large one, had been folded in two, which made us believe last year when we raised the lid of the sarcophagus that there were three. The upper and smaller sheet is of close weaving, while the underneath sheet, folded in two, is of very open material - after the nature of coarse muslin. The first sheet bore a linen mark, unfortunately very illegible but appears to be merely the name and title of the King in black ink which has eaten away the fabric.

February 5, 1925.

Burton came over this morning with his camera and took a series of photographic records of the coffin in situ.

Completed the series of bows and arrows etc. found between the shrines in the sepulchral-chamber. Recorded them, and they are now ready for final photographing and packing for Cairo.

Tewfik Eff. paid me a visit this morning.

February 6, 1925.

Replaced glass on sarcophagus.

Preserved and indexed the seals from the two inner shrines. The seals and cord were in good condition, but for safety I saturated them with celluloid dissolved in amyl acetate.

Commenced treating the cosmetic vase no. 211. It was badly stained by the fatty or oily substance it contained, which was still soft to a certain degree. Unfortunately it has eaten the aragonite in places, but by careful soaking in benzine I hope to get it in fair good order.

It is a very interesting and good piece of workmanship.

February 7, 1925.

Completed the aragonite cosmetic jar no. 211. I found that after removing as much of the stains as possible it was better to paraffin wax it. Now that it is cleaned it shows up admirably and is an exquisite example of design. Especially the heads of the captives upon which it stands - two negroes and two northerners of Mediterranean type.

Dr Munthe paid us a visit and lunched with us in the Valley.

Commenced experimenting on the large calcite vase 210, with caryatid figures - Nile gods HAPI. The problem here is how best to dissolve the content which has caused the frail neck to burst in many pieces.

February 8, 1925.

Commenced cleaning the large alabaster vase no. 210. Went to Luxor.

February 9, 1925.

Continued our work on the reparation of the vase 210. Found that parafin was efficacious in the final cleaning of the stained alabaster.

February 10, 1925.

No work today on account of the Government visitors. They were about forty in number, none of which had any real interest in seeing the tomb further than curiosity. Up to the present no newspaper correspondents have shown any interest nor demanded any news. The absence of Egyptians among the visitors today was also significant of the pretended interest of last year.

February 11, 1925.

Both Lucas and myself were occupied the whole day upon the reparation of the Hapi vase no. 210, and it will probably take all day tomorrow before we are through with it.

February 17, 1925.

These last days we have occupied ourselves upon the preservation of the material in the laboratory - having completed the alabaster vases and now commenced upon the Anubis Emblems, which seem only to require cleaning with a damp sponge and afterwards waxing.

It is interesting to note that the mace found in the tomb chamber and in the long box in the antechamber prove really to be trumpets. The wood core in them being merely for their protection - the wooden cores being elaborately decorated which would hardly be the case if they were intended to be maces.

February 18, 1925.

Cleaned and waxed the two Anubis emblems today. They are much improved by having the hot wax poured over them.

Mrs Armstrong came over and had lunch with us.

Mr Lucas has got quite interesting results from a reed I found in the Tomb-Chamber at the back of the shrine. When I found it I suspected that it might have something to do with lighting material. Mr Lucas on examining it found that the hollow of the reed had been filled with a resinous and fat material and was probably used as an improvised candle.

February 21, 1925.

These last few days have been taken up with cleaning and waxing the Thoueris couch from the Antechamber. The bed has yet to be finished.

THOUERIS is one of a number of male and female demon deities, who may almost be compared to the satyrs of the Greeks. She is a combination of animals - here partly hippopotamus partly crocodile and from her legs and feet partly feline. It would seem from the emblem she holds that her duty was PROTECTION. She was the wife of BES, whose duty was to amuse either in music or dancing or to tend divine children; his wife, THOUERIS, particularly in the New Empire, was one of the foremost favourites of the people, her name signified THE GREAT ONE.

Thus, we have, in the set of the three ceremonial couches found in the Antechamber, THE TERRIBLE GODDESS OF THE CHASE in the shape of the lion or perhaps to be more accurate the cheetah couch; the goddess of pleasure and love, THE ABODE OF HORUS, in the form of the HATHOR or cow couch; and that of PROTECTION, on earth as well as in the heavens, in the shape of the THOUERIS couch.


March 1, 1925.

The last days in February were occupied in completing the remainder of the objects - such as the THOUERIS couch, and the bed portion of the HATHOR couch and the second statue from the antechamber. They are now all finished and for their photographing - a task Burton will begin next Wednesday.

On the 27th. of last month Ziwa Pasha, the P.M., paid us a visit. He seemed very pleased with the discovery and the results of our discovery in general.

March 1 to 31, 1925.

Were spent photographing the objects and packing do. The last few days being spent in making various dispositions in the laboratory and tomb preparatory to next Autumn's campaign.

The cases, 19 in all, of antiquities were sent per steamer to Cairo on the 31st March - and on the same day both the laboratory and the tomb were closed for the season.

(December 17, 2010)

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