On Nov. 4, 1922, after nearly four years of fruitless excavations, British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamen at Luxor, Egypt. This excavation is considered one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
Tutankhamen became pharaoh at age nine and ruled for ten years until his death at age 19, around 1352 B.C. The cause of his death remains a mystery – some scholars have speculated that he may have been assassinated, others believe he died as the result of an injury received while hunting.
The discovery generated a craze for Egyptian artifacts and had a huge impact on popular culture worldwide. “Tut-mania” became a major influence on cinema, music, fashion, jewelry and architecture of the time, and became one of the major influences of the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1960s, the Cairo Museum began to loan out some of the artifacts to be exhibited abroad. Perhaps the most popular exhibition was The Treasures of Tutankhamen, which ran from 1972 to 1981, and traveled to museums all over the world.
Since the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, rumors circulated that anyone who dared violate this final resting place would face a terrible curse. The legend grew because many of the people involved (ranging from security guards to archaeologists) did, indeed, die within the first few years of the discovery. Although the “curse of the pharaohs” is not unique to Tutankhamen, some have speculated that Carter used the rumor to protect his discovery from the press and other intruders.
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