In 1907, Egyptologist and archaeologist Howard Carter was hired by George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon to oversee excavations in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Carter had built a reputation for scrupulously recording and preserving discoveries.
Carter searched the valley for years with little to show for it, which drew the ire of his employer. In 1922, Lord Carnarvon told Carter that he had only one more season of digging before his funding would be ended.
Revisiting a previously abandoned dig site at a group of huts, Carter started digging again, desperate for a breakthrough.
On Nov. 4, 1922, his crew discovered a step carved into the rock. By the end of the next day, a whole staircase had been uncovered. Carter wired Carnarvon, imploring him to come at once.
On Nov. 26, with Carnarvon at his side, Carter chipped open a small breach in the corner of the doorway at the end of the stairs. Holding a candle, he peered inside.
The team had discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king who ruled Egypt from about 1332 to 1323 BC.
Though there was evidence the tomb had twice been raided by ancient grave robbers, it was still remarkably intact. The tomb was crammed with thousands of priceless artifacts, including the sarcophagus containing the king’s mummified remains.
Every object in the tomb was meticulously recorded and cataloged before being removed, a process that took nearly eight years.
These photographs documenting the discovery of the tomb have been colorized by Dynamichrome for the exhibition The Discovery of King Tut, opening in New York on Nov. 21. With precisely crafted replicas and reconstructions, the exhibit allows visitors to step into exact recreations of three burial chambers just as the discoverers saw them.