After 100 Years, Stolen King Tut Items Located

Archaeologist who uncovered pharoah's tomb had a 'rather free and easy attitude'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2022 7:00 AM CDT
Professor Tracks Down Jewelry Stolen From King Tut's Tomb
Tourists film inside the tomb chamber of King Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. Egypt is celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun tomb on Nov. 4, 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter and his team.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Biographers say the British archaeologist who discovered the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun a century ago this month dismissed talk of the "curse of King Tut's tomb" as superstitious "poppy-rot." That belief may have been backed up by the fact that he stole items from the pharaoh's tomb and got away with it, researchers say. In a new study, Egyptology professor Marc Gabolde has identified and tracked down jewelry that Howard Carter apparently took from the tomb illegally and brought back to England, Live Science reports. The French professor compared photos from the tomb to pieces found in museums and on auction sites and located items including a collar found on the young pharaoh's chest when the mummy was unwrapped, parts of which were made into a necklace at some point after it was taken.

Other parts of the collar are now in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, according to Gabolde's research. He also identified items from the tomb in other museums and in the possession of private collectors. After Carter died in 1939—having outlived many other expedition members—an auction house's valuation list identified 20 artifacts from his collection as being from Tutankhamun's tomb. Some were returned to Egypt by Carter's niece, but Gabolde believes some unlisted items had already been sold. "What surprised me was to find a little more than what had been identified by previous researchers and to be able, for some objects, to give the exact correspondence with Carter's files," Gabolde tells Archaeology magazine.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art sent some items back to Egypt in 2011, but it's not clear whether others, including the British Museum, will follow suit. In August, author Bob Brier said he had found a letter that confirmed long-standing suspicions that Carter had helped himself to items from the tomb. Carter gave some items away to his friends. Aiden Dodson, an Egyptology professor in the UK, tells Live Science that he doubts Carter took anything for financial gain. He says Carter may have seen some items as having had little value, and brought others back for repair or analysis. Carter had a "rather free and easy attitude, consistent with someone who had started his career in the 1890s, when archaeological morals were rather different," Dodson says. (More Tutankhamun stories.)

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