In 1922, as Egypt became an independent nation, the tomb of the young king Tutankhamun was discovered at Luxor, the first known intact royal burial from ancient Egypt. The excavation of the small but crowded tomb by Howard Carter and his team generated enormous media interest and was famously photographed by Harry Burton (1879– 1940) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. These photographs became part of an archive created by the excavators, along with letters, plans, drawings and diaries. When Carter died in 1939, he bequeathed most of his estate, including these archaeological records, to his niece Phyllis Walker (1897–1977), who, on the advice of the Egyptologists Alan H. Gardiner (1879–1963) and Percy E. Newberry (1869–1949), presented the documentation with associated copyright to the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford, in 1945.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in November 1922, the Griffith Institute is working with Bodleian Libraries on an exhibition of the archive to be displayed at the ‘Treasury’ gallery in the Weston Library (13 April 2022 – 05 February 2023). It will show a selection of these historic images and records, presenting a vivid and first-hand account of the discovery, of the spectacular variety of the king’s burial goods and of the remarkable work that went into documenting and conserving the more than 5000 objects over a period of ten years.