Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Legacy of Howard Carter - Explorer and Thief?

Originally published January 15, 2010 | Free Internet Press | by Matthias Schulz, translated from German by Ella Ornstein | The following is an excerpt from this revealing article about perhaps the most well-known archaeologist, discoverer of perhaps the most well-known Ancient Egyptian pharaoh:

The grandeur of the find rubbed off on its discoverer. Carter was awarded an honorary doctorate and U.S. President Calvin Coolidge invited him to tea. Horst Beinlich, Egyptologist at Wurzburg University, calls him a "thoroughly honest man full of idealism."

It appears, however, that this isn't quite true. Documents show that the hero of the tombs cheated on many counts, manipulating photographs, forging documentation on the discovery and deceiving the Egyptian Antiquities Service.

The discoveries in that tomb set in motion a power struggle that has been only partially uncovered. Carter wanted to send as much of the treasure as possible to England and the United States. This plan quickly met with resistance. Egypt had been a British protectorate since 1914, but the administration of antiques lay in the hands of a particularly intractable Frenchman.

In the end, Carter's entire scheme went awry and the pharaoh's golden treasures remained in Cairo, marking the end of an era of ruthless appropriation of cultural assets. Carter and his team went away empty-handed.

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