February 16, 1923 — The inner chamber of King Tut’s tomb is unsealed

Tutankhamun, or King Tut, was one of the most mysterious of the Egyptian pharaohs, largely because his successors had tried very hard to eradicate all records of his existence. Fortuitously, this meant that his tomb was lost for centuries, and not found until the 1920s, allowing archaeologists a good idea of what a pharaonic tomb that hadn’t been plundered and vandalised looked like.

The innermost chamber of it, where the boy king himself lay, was the last part to be unsealed. Archaeologist Howard Carter, the leader of the dig, was the first to see into the tomb. When asked what he saw, he replied “Wonderful things”. He was right. The collection of artifacts from this tomb is the most complete existing for any Egyptian ruler, and has traveled the world many times in the century since its discovery.

The Moment Carter Opens the Tomb.JPG
By Harry BurtonThe New York Times photo archive, via their online store, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

King Tut — Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons

November 26, 1922 — Carter and Carnavon find King Tut’s tomb

If not the greatest archeaological find of the Twentieth Century, certainly the best known. King Tut – well, Tutankhamum really – was a little known and fairly unimportant Pharaoh historically, but his tomb is one of the best preserved ever found, and has been extremely influential in how we view Pharaonic Egypt.

Howard Carter and his sponsor, George Herbert, Lord Carnavon, had spent lots of money and nearly a decade searching for the tomb of the boy king, and Carnavon had started to lose hope. 1922 was to be the last year he funded Carter – it turned out to be the last year he needed to. It took a decade to finish cataloging the tomb and removing the artifacts from it. Since their discovery, various collections of Tutankhamun artifacts have been almost constantly on tour around the world.

A man opens a decorated door as two other men watch
By Harry BurtonThe New York Times photo archive, via their online store, Medelhavsmuseet: HB06, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

King Tut — Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons

circa 1323 BCE — Tutankhamen dies

The best known of all of the Egyptian Pharaohs, largely due to the sensational circumstances of his tomb’s discovery in 1924. At the time he was placed in it, Tutankhamen is believed to have been about 18 years old, and to have been Pharaoh for about a decade. His age has led many to speculate that he may have been assassinated by his regents, who wished to keep power and legally would not be able to do so once the Boy King reached adulthood.

However, recent research points at a combination of diseases (chiefly malaria, which he seems to have suffered from several times in his short life) and congenital defects (most likely due to the inbreeding that was common in many pharaonic dynasties) as the actual cause of his death – although the political advantages remain the same regardless of the cause.

circa 1341 BCE — Tutankhamun born

Tutankhamun, the boy king, was considerably less important in history than his prominence in our time would indicate. The boy king died at just the age where he could actually start to rule in his own name, apparently killed by those who had run the kingdom in his name since the death of his controversial father.

Akhenaten, the father of Tut and his predecessor as pharoah, had attempted to reform Egypt’s religion, turning from the traditional pantheon of deities headed by Osiris and Isis to a more monotheistic worship of the sun god Aten. Like his son, he too seems to have been murdered, and the major events of Tutankhamun’s reign aside from his coronation and death concerned the rolling back of his father’s changes and the re-establishment of the traditional priest class’ rulership of the kingdom.