30 July 2014

Howard Carter Google Doodle: His 138th Birthday

Howard Carter Google Doodle

Howard Carter Google Doodle

On May 9th 2012, the Google Doodle team paid tribute to what would have been the 138th birthday of the archaeologist and Egyptologist, with a Howard Carter Google Doodle. Carter gained lasting fame after discovering the Tomb of Tutankhamun. The Howard Carter Google Doodle, which appeared globally, was created by talented doodler Willie Real. In a blog post which accompanied the Howard Carter Google Doodle, Real discusses the creative process behind the Howard Carter Google Doodle. “The concept we chose was the one where Howard Carter stands proudly in front of the treasures he led to discover.” He wrote. “There were thousands of artefacts that took roughly a decade to catalogue and we unfortunately only have so much space on our homepage.” The Howard Carter Google Doodle and associated blog can be viewed by clicking here.

Carter was born on 9th May 1874 in London. He showed archaeological talent from an early age, at just seventeen Carter had developed an impressive ability to copy the interior tomb designs and to improve existing archaeological methods and practices. His talent was recognised and resulted in a tutelage with Flinders Petrie, a Professor of Egyptology at University College London. Carter worked under Petrie for one season in 1892 on a site at Amarna, the capital created by Pharaoh Akhenaten.

On the strength of his early career, Carter was appointed as the first chief inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service. During this position, Carter supervised excavations in Thebes, modern day Luxor and developed an efficient grid-block method of exploring tombs. The Egyptian Antiquities Service granted Carter with funding to fulfil his own excavations. One of these excavations resulted in the discovery of the Tombs of Pharaohs Thutmose I and Thutmose III. However, the discovery was bitter sweet as tomb robbers had already looted the treasure from both tombs.

In 1907, Carter was employed by Lord Carnarvon to supervise on his excavation activities within the Valley of the Kings. Carter was employed to ensure that modern recording systems and archaeological methods were employed. However, Carnarvon later employed Carter to find the illustrious Tomb of Tutankhamun. Initially the search was a fruitless exercise, much to Carnarvon’s disgruntlement. By 1922, after several years without success, Carnarvon stated that Carter had funding for one more season to search the Valley of the Kings for the tomb.

Months later, on November 4th 1922, Carter found steps leading down to a tomb which he suspected to be that of Tutankhamun. Carter informed Lord Carnarvon of his suspected discovery via wire and urged him to come to the site. Carnarvon arrived eighteen days later on November 22nd with his daughter in tow. In front of gathered observers, Carter made a tiny breach into the top left hand corner of the doorway. This breach provided Carter with his first glimpse of the tomb, however at this stage he was unsure as to whether he had discovered a tomb or a burial cache. Whilst peering through the breach Carnarvon asked Carter, “Can you see anything?” To which Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.”

The subsequent months were spent cataloguing the contents of the antechamber. The tomb itself was opened on 16th February 1923, on this day it was discovered that the antechamber led to a tomb and Carter first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. Thousands of artefacts were found with the tomb, to the extent that the cataloguing process lasted nine years and finished in 1932.

On the strength of his recovery, Carter retired from archaeology and became a part-time agent, working on behalf of museums and collectors. He died at the age of 64, on 2nd March 1939 from lymphoma. Carter’s legacy continued after his death through portrayal in a number of films and books.