On November 4, 1922, Egyptologist Howard Carter and his crew of archaeologists found a stone step at a site known as KV62, near Luxor, Egypt. Within a few weeks of excavation, the crew uncovered a staircase leading to a tomb's antechamber. After three months of work, they gained access to the tomb's inner chamber where they found King Tutankhamen's sarcophagus containing his now-iconic golden burial mask.
Tutankhamen became king of Egypt in 1333 BC, at age nine or 10, and reigned until his death 10 years later, at age 19. He was buried according to ancient Egyptian custom accorded to royalty, including an elaborate mummification ritual and an opulent tomb containing valuable treasures. His reign was not especially significant historically and the location of his tomb was lost until its discovery 90 years ago. Learn more about the life and death of the "boy king" in the recently-published Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King.
Carter had supervised excavations in the area known as the Valley of the Kings for about 15 years before discovering Tutankhamen's uncommonly intact tomb. For eight years after the discovery, Carter and other archaeologists removed more than 5,000 objects worth billions of dollars, including hundreds of gold objects, four gilded wooden shrines and six chariots that accompanied the sarcophagus containing the mummified remains of Tutankhamen.
Read Carter's firsthand account of his find in The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen and view photographs documenting the tomb's treasure as it was removed in Tutankhamun's Tomb: The Thrill of Discovery.
Carter's discovery of King Tut's tomb spawned the biggest wave of "Egyptomania" since Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in the late 18th century. The fascination with Egyptian antiquities especially influenced the era's design (Art Deco 1910-1939) and film (The Mummy starring Boris Karloff).
More recently, the traveling exhibition of artifacts from Tutankhamen's tomb during the 1970s inspired yet another revival of interest in ancient Egypt, including comedian Steve Martin's performance as a singing King Tut on Saturday Night Live.
Tutankhamen's tomb continues to serve as the backdrop for books for all ages, from picture books (You wouldn't want to be Tutankhamen!: A Mummy Who Really Got Meddled With), graphic novels (The Curse of King Tut's Tomb) and chapter books (The Curse of King Tut's Mummy) for younger readers and tales of intrigue for adults, both fiction (The Tomb of the Golden Bird) and nonfiction (The Murder of King Tut).