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Explore More - Expedition Cruising

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In search of ANCIENT

In search of ANCIENT EGYPT A last-chance attempt to find archaeological gold paid off for Lord Carnarvon and his friend Howard Carter. Visit Highclere Castle to discover the mysteries of a forgotten tomb Highclere Castle has been home to the Carnarvon family since 1679. Built on an ancient site, the original house was recorded in the Domesday Book. The present-day castle was designed in 1842 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect who built the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The castle’s history includes a fascinating connection with ancient Egypt, as the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, along with his archaeological colleague, Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. More recently, of course, Highclere was the location of the world-famous and muchloved series Downton Abbey. THE PATH TO DISCOVERY Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter worked together for 16 years, planning their expeditions from the comfort of Highclere Castle. The exhibition in Highclere’s cellars explores the life and interests of Lord Carnarvon, including his passion for cars, his talents as a pioneering photographer and his travels. Visitors can see what happened to the castle and family during World War I. After 1918, Lord Carnarvon found that his financial situation was becoming increasingly difficult. Both Lord Carnarvon and Carter had been ill and were becoming discouraged, with very little to show for their long hours of effort and toil in Egypt. But they were convinced there were yet more tombs to be found in the Valley of the Kings and had created a system of grids to cover the ground in an organized way. In June 1922, during a weekend at Highclere, Lord Carnarvon agreed that they would embark on one more excavation season in Egypt during the coming autumn and winter, as there was one more grid area to cover. The decision had fateful consequences for both men. Later that year, Lord Carnarvon and Carter cleared the passageway down to the plastered sealed door which led into the antechamber of Clockwise, from above: The magnificent Highclere Castle; Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon; the Irtyru cabinet; Lady Carnarvon admires the sarcophagus; Lord and Lady Carnarvon in front of the entrance to Tutankhamen’s tomb; a view of the sarcophagus the tomb: “Together, the excavators stood in front looking at the seal impressions... Nervously, Carter made a small hole in the door, and reached up to hold a candle. The candle flickered as the air escaped.” The excavators widened the gaps in the plaster; Carter, Lord Carnarvon and Lord Carnarvon’s daughter Lady Evelyn climbed in, and everywhere “there was the glint of gold.” Lord Carnarvon both discovered and purchased Egyptian artifacts. He created one of the most extraordinary Egyptian collections in the world, featuring exquisite works of art. Following his death in 1923, the collection was sold by his widow to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to pay death duties. Carter had cataloged it and commented that he had left a few items at Highclere. They remained tucked away in cupboards until rediscovered by the family in 1987. The British Museum and Newbury Museum have lent back further antiquities which had originally been loaned to them by the Carnarvon family. In the exhibit, visitors can observe jewelry, faces and figures, beautifully crafted jars and a coffin of a noblewoman from 3,500 years ago. The themed exhibition of the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb includes more than 60 incredible replicas, wall paintings of the tomb and a fascinating photographic archive. 114 VIKING.COM EXPLORE MORE 2020