Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation.
Howard Carter's diaries.
The fifth excavation season in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
September 22, 1926 to May 3, 1927

© 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, written in ink (with some additions in pencil) in Howard Carter's hand, is on pages 1-25 of a large notebook (32.5 by 21 cm) with a label Egyptian Government on its front cover. It is catalogued in the Griffith Institute Archive as TAA Archive i.2.4.

The notebook contains a mixture of journal entries and descriptions of finds. At a later stage most of the descriptive sections were crossed through, perhaps by Carter himself, as though marked for omission. This, however, was carried out rather inconsistently, and while the transcript presented here follows these suggestions and usually does not include such entries, several of them (for example that for November 8, 1926) have been retained. In several cases, for example the entries for November 11-13 and December 1 and 2, the description of finds was not crossed off but has nevertheless been omitted in this transcript according to Carter's usual practice.

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 will be available here soon and may be consulted for details.

September 22, 1926.

Left London 10.45am Victoria via Dover - Calais - Paris.

September 23, 1926.

Arrived Trieste 9pm and embarked S.S. Vienna.

September 24, 1926.

Dep. 1pm.

September 27, 1926.

Arrived Alexandria 2.30pm. Dep. 6pm. for Cairo. Arr. Cairo 9.45pm. Met Dr. Saleh Bey Hamdi at Alex., with whom I arranged that I would go to Alex. for a day (from Cairo) to see the Min. of P.W.D.

September 28, 1926.

A. Lucas came to dine with me at the Continental Hotel.

Arranged that he shall go to Luxor with me on Tuesday Oct. 5.

September 29, 1926.

Saw Edgar at the Museum.

Arranged with him the following items:

The electric light in the valley to be ready by Oct. 20th.

Case containing the painted casket (No. 21) to be sent to me at Luxor for final preparation for exhibiting and to be returned to the Cairo Museum within the month.

That Lucas should accompany me to Luxor Oct. 5th.

That our programme for this season's campaign would be to deal with the 'déblaiement' of the Store Chamber. The tomb, as in last season, not to be open to the public until the 1st Jan. 1927. and from that date until the following March 15th. Visitors should be allowed 3 days per week.

Telephoned to the Dir. of Customs, Ahmed Bey Gharto, regarding customs of eleven cases of stores and materials per SS. 'Raupum'. Sent invoices and instructions to the P&O agent Port Said for same.

October 1, 1926.

Edgar dined with me. Bulletin required end of first week after commencing work.

October 2, 1926.

Went to the Museum, where Edgar had kindly arranged with regard to sending the painted casket in charge of Lucas to Luxor.

Inspected skeleton of a horse discovered by Firth and Quibell at Saqqara. Allowing for certain shrinkage its height to withers is 160 cms = 60" = 15 hands, which seems abnormally high for a horse of the Ramesside period as Firth and Quibell appear to date it.

October 5, 1926.

Left Cairo 7pm, with Lucas for Luxor.

October 6, 1926.

Arr. Luxor 8.30am. Crossed over to Gurna. 9.30am to find house and men in good order.

Weather very cool, but house, by being closed all summer, hot and stuffy.

October 7, 1926.

Went to the Valley 10am this morning, where everything seemed to be in good order. Open the Laboratory (No. 15) which would have been in perfect order had the Reises not failed in noticing that rats had burrowed under the wood-screen before the steel gate. A little sand placed at the base would have prevented this. Luckily very little harm had been done by the rats, which is fortunate, as it might have been far worse.

The two cases containing the casket No. 21 arrived this morning (11.30) and I placed them in the Laboratory. They were sent from Luxor in charge of two ghaffirs to the Valley, which seems a somewhat careless manner on the part of the Inspector, after the instructions he had received from Edgar at the Museum. I rather fear that we may yet have trouble with the Chief Inspector Tewfik Effendi Boulos - I hope not!

October 9, 1926.

Cleaned and prepared Laboratory for work to begin tomorrow, namely:
(1) Completing the Royal Mummy for final reburial.
(2) " the first (outermost) coffin to receive the mummy.

October 10, 1926.

Lucas and I commenced real work this morning: Lucas upon the cleaning and reparation of the first (outermost) coffin shell; myself upon the final touches of the King's mummy before reburial when we open the tomb.

Paid the four Reises salary due for the summer months, i.e., from June 30th up to Oct. 31st.

October 13, 1926.

Commenced upon reparation and making good for exhibition in Cairo the painted casket No. 21.

October 14, 1926.

Completed casket No. 21.

October 16, 1926.

Burton arrived.

October 17, 1926.

Lucas completed first outermost coffin (No. 243).

Burton prepared dark room and commenced upon photos in detail of casket No. 21.

Electric light started this am.

Tewfik Effendi Boulos, the Chief Insp. Depart. of Antiquities, came to Valley with the New Marmour of Luxor (Abd El Megid Shenasheen). I am under the understanding that this is the first visit Tewfik Boulos has made to the Valley since May last, and then only to take over the cases for transport to the Museum.

October 18, 1926.

Received in Valley visit from the Insp. of Interior and Hakam Ins. of the Police.

Gave instructions to Reis Ahmed to procure the necessary men & boys for uncovering the tomb on Wednesday morning (20th).

October 19, 1926.

Tuesday. No work. Wrote Tewfik re opening the tomb.

October 21, 1926.

The rubbish covering the entrance of the tomb having been removed, the tomb was opened this morning and we found everything in good order.

Having prepared tackle and overhead scaffold, I removed the lid of the first (outermost) coffin from the sarcophagus, and transported it to the laboratory, for photographing with its shell, preparatory to returning both to the sarcophagus, with the mummy of the King inside.

Burton made photos of the King's mummy and detail photographs of the head work left (under-wax) upon the King (i.e., Nos. SSS and TTT).

October 22, 1926.

Burton having made the final photos of the first (outermost) coffin, we prepared everything for replacing it together with the mortal remains of the King in the sarcophagus in the tomb, a task proposed to carry out tomorrow.

Received visit from Tewfik Effendi, Mahmoud Effendi and the Inspector of Karnak this morning.

October 23, 1926.

The first outermost coffin containing the King's mummy, finally rewrapped, was lowered into the sarcophagus this morning.

We are now ready to begin upon the investigation of the store room.

October 24, 1926.

Burton commenced making photographic records of the store-room. By the very nature of his instrument the photographer can simply capture a moment of his subject; therefore any cumulative effort, such as may be rendered by the artist, is beyond the scope of the camera. For that reason, I say, careful selection of the subject, the full appreciation of light and shade and pose, and the avoidance of any form of arrested action or distortion, are the real and all important factors in the art of photography.

Lucas commenced repairing the bier (No. 253a) that supported the first (outermost) coffin, as it has to be sent to Cairo.

October 25, 1926.

As Anubis has to be taken to pieces to enable it to be removed and passed out of the Burial Chamber, Burton continued making photographic records of each stage of the proceeding.

Lucas continued his work upon the lion-shaped bier, in Lab.

October 26, 1926.

Paid the men yesterday. Today being Tuesday no work.

October 27, 1926.

Removed the figure of Anubis (No. 261) together with his pylon-shaped palankeen from the store room, and transported them to the lab.

Burton was thus able to continue further photographic records of the objects in the chamber.

Lucas continued his restoration work upon the bier (253a).

October 28, 1926.

Removed the head of a cow (264) and the ivory and ebony veneered casket (267), into the antechamber ready for transport to the Lab.

October 29, 1926.

Transported to the lab. casket No. 267, where we examined its contents and took some preliminary photographic records.

The ivory and ebony veneered casket had been without doubt rummaged by thieves, and in all probability its more valuable contents removed, yet it still contained more than fifteen pieces of magnificent gold inlaid pectorals and a girdle of intricate design, which had originally been tied up in a piece of linen and sealed.

October 30, 1926.

Lucas commenced upon the jewellery box 267.

Burton printing negatives to date.

Removed the cartouche-shaped box No. 269, from the store room ready for transport to lab. Its contents seem to be much disturbed - it contains like No. 267 a lot of jewellery and ? a robe. Owing to trouble with teeth must go to Cairo today.

October 31, 1926.

Henri Laudauer, who is to assist me this season, arrived Cairo.

November 3, 1926.

Returned Luxor - Gurna, accompanied by Henri Landauer.

November 4, 1926.

Recommenced work in store room this morning.

Removed two boxes Nos. 270 and 271, and prepared the last box of this series No. 272, which contains the King's fan, for Burton to photograph tomorrow.

No. 270 was found to contain some ornamental shoes.

No. 271 among other objects a scribe's outfit, a pith basket and an elaborate mirror case - the mirror apparently stolen by the thieves.

November 5, 1926.

Photographed, sprayed with duroprene, and removed to the lab, the King's ostrich feather and ivory fan, contained in box No. 272.

Also photographed, collected the fallen frags., and waxed the ivory and ebony casket No. 268, preparatory to transporting it to the lab.

November 6-7, 1926.

Removed from store room box 268, the three tazze 265 - two of which (a. and c.) apparently contain natron, the model boat (276) with sails and rigging, a smaller boat (278) of the celestial type, and a model granary No. 277.

The rigging of boat (276) had first to be thoroughly sprayed with duroprene, and then its mast, being too high to pass out through the aperture between the scaffolding in the burial chamber, it had to be removed.

The further the investigation and déblaiement of the material in this store room advances, the disturbances that must have been caused by the tomb robbers become more and more evident.

When examining the contents of the six boxes 267-272, we found them practically empty - the greater part of their contents have been no doubt stolen - in fact not more than a third of their contents were left, and the remainder of the objects evidently returned to the various boxes without any order or care. Those officials must have found everything strewn upon the floor by the plundering, have gathered them up & put them back into the boxes without regard as to which one they belonged.

November 8, 1926.

Today, for the first time, we were able to obtain a comprehensive idea as to the contents of those black shrine-like chests stacked along the S. wall of the Store-Room.

Our work had progressed sufficiently to enable us to safely move and open the large upright example (275) near the south side of the doorway, and to lift it into the Burial Chamber for inspection. Its folding doors, tied with cord, sealed with a clay seal, bearing impressions of two distinct seals, when opened, revealed a group of five wooden statuettes of the king - four of them gesso-gilt draped with linen coverings, and the fifth varnished with black resin. All of them of exquisite workmanship resembling the King in various forms, attitudes and pursuits, holding respectively sacred symbols and missiles of sacred occupations in future life.

These with the two figures upon leopards in another chest, already mentioned, show that in all probability these boxes contain figurines symbolizing the King in various forms, duties and pursuits in the hereafter.

November 10, 1926.

Behind chest (275) and placed upon the west end of the large flat box (278), was a plain wooden chest (No. 279) with its gable-shaped lid displaced and only partially covering the chest. Its contents apparently had been robbed, containing only (which probably did not belong there) a model Mola Trustilis or thrusting hand mill for grinding corn into a coarse meal. It comprises a saddle-stone and muller made of ... stone. The saddle-stone has a more or less concave face on which grain was placed, and with the use of the muller, shaped like an oval bun, the grain was rubbed and ground into a meal. This model, no doubt, was intended to symbolize trituration of grain for the food of the divine, and I believe I am right in saying that, though the grinding of corn was peculiarly the duty of women, it was the privilege of the Pharaoh to prepare the meal for the deity, in fact he was actually the divine triturator. Statuettes depicting Egyptian monarchs grinding corn into meal for the god, by means of the saddle-stone and muller, are not unknown.

November 11-13, 1926.

These last three days have enabled us to completely clear the S.W. corner of the store room.

As the laboratory has now become full of objects transported from the store-room, we have been obliged to stop further déblaiement of the room and to turn our energies on the material in laboratory to make room for continuation of the work in the tomb.

November 16, 1926.

Tuesday no work. Sent off to Cassells index to Vol. II.

November 17, 1926.

Mons. and Madame Guernier visited the lab.

Undressed, photographed and repaired the two statuettes 275b and d, from Chest 275. The wax treatment proved successful in both cases and I believe they can now be safely packed in sawdust. The art of these figures is transitional - El Amarna and Theban.

November 18, 1926.

Four of these figures were dealt with today.

November 19-22, 1926.

Conserved, noted the figurines Nos. 280a, 281a, 282a, 283, a, b, c, and the neck-unit cow's head No. 264 and then boxes prepared for packing them.

November 24, 1926.

Examined the contents of box No. 269.

Received a visit from Tewfik Effendi Boulos.

November 25, 1926.

Box No. 269 was found to contain ear-rings, a mirror case, a bead-work girdle, 2 heq-sceptres and 2 flails. Then several bracelets, scaraboid necklace, two pectorals, a bead work apron, a small round bundle of linen and some scarves.

November 26, 1926.

Received a visit from the Mudir of Keneh together with the Marmour.

Completed investigation of box 269.

November 27-29, 1926.

Completed examining the material brought up from the tomb; photographed, cleaned & packed a large proportion of it, so as to make room for more to be brought up next week.

270. Box No. 270, was found to contain a pair of ornamental slippers, a lid of a box from 269a, and an anklet of stone (? of schist).

December 1, 1926.

Recommenced removing objects from the store room of the tomb, namely those stored and forming a group in the south east corner. Here there were sixteen black shrine-like chests (Nos. 290-305), placed in four rows parallel with the east wall, and stacked upon them were nine boats (Nos. 306-314) of four distinct types. Practically all the chests like the prows of the boats faced towards the West, the exception being three of the chests, which faced towards the North, they being too deep to take their proper orientation. One of the boats, the southernmost (No. 314), had fallen down behind chests Nos. 292 and 296.

We succeeded in removing and transporting to the laboratory the nine boats, and to open and examine four of the black chests.

December 2, 1926.

Completed the examination of the S.E. group of chests, which are now ready for transport to the laboratory.

December 3-4, 1926.

Continued examining and cleaning the above discoveries.

December 4, 1926.

Went over to Luxor to the inauguration of the broadgauge Luxor - Aswan rail.

December 5, 1926.

Visit from the Min. of Public Instruction, Ali Pasha Chamsy and party.

Met the P.M. Ardly Yeghen Pasha.

December 6, 1926.

Ardly Pasha visited the tomb with party.

Newberrys to tea.

December 18, 1926.

These last few days have been employed in tidying up the tomb preparatory to the visit of the XIVth Congrés International de Navigation who are to come tomorrow the 19th.

December 19-30, 1926.

Work stopped in store-chamber.

Preserving & recording of material & objects discovered carried on in lab.

December 31, 1926.

Received visit of King Fuad to tomb & lab.

H.M. seems very pleased with the results.

January 1, 1927.

Tomb opened to the public, and henceforth, until March 15th (afterwards extended to March 31st) (every Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday, 9am to 12 noon).

January 10, 1927.

Sultan el Melek visited the tomb and laboratory.

January 18, 1927.

Left for Aswan with Tremayne.

January 30, 1927.

Returned Luxor.

January 31, 1927.

Left for Cairo.

February 1, 1927.

Arrived Cairo.

February 5, 1927.

Left for Luxor.

February 6, 1927.

Arrived Luxor.

February 9, 1927.

Owing to demands from visitors was obliged to return to Aswan.

February 28, 1927.

Returned to Luxor.

March 1, 1927.

Returned to Gurna and recommenced work in laboratory.

March 23, 1927.

Burton came & continued his photographing the objects.

March 28, 1927.

Burton completed his photos.

March 31, 1927.

Tomb closed to tourists.

April 1, 1927.

The Pres. Masaryk came & visited tomb.

April 8, 1927.

Burton made photos of the remaining objects in the store chamber.

April 13, 1927.

Landauer left for Cairo.

April 16, 1927.

Antiquities left by train for Cairo.

April 23-24, 1927.

Left Gurna - Luxor for Cairo - Arr. Cairo 24th stayed at Residency.

April 29, 1927.

Dep. Cairo for England.

May 3, 1927.

Arr. London 11.30pm.

(December 17, 2010)

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