One hundred years ago, on 4 November 1922, an Egyptian boy working with British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered a limestone step in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt. This led to the discovery of the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, the best-preserved royal tomb ever discovered in this area. The burial site was packed with over five thousand artefacts of great historical significance, including Tutankhamun’s mummified body and his famous golden death mask.


It is often said that Tutankhamun is more remarkable in death than he was in life. We have very few certainties about his life, but we do know that he was born around 1341 BC, became the ruler of Egypt at around the age of nine, and died at around the age of eighteen. His daily life is inaccessible to us, because his tomb contained a set of objects meant to prepare him for and sustain him in the afterlife. Even his clothing reveals little. We do know something about his family — the names of its members, for example — but we cannot tell how they related to one another.


The discovery of Tutankhamun’s well-preserved tomb made Carter world-famous and renewed global interest in Ancient Egypt. Before the tomb was discovered, only fragments of objects, statues and furniture had been found, which had been thoroughly studied. Despite the absence of lengthy texts or other information on Tutankhamun, his tomb proved revelatory in that it contained a near-intact group of objects that would accompany a king of that period of Egyptian history. It also shed light on the meaning of fragments of evidence gathered from other tombs, especially those excavated in the Valley of the Kings.


Since its discovery, some of the artefacts from the tomb, which include a gold coffin, thrones, trumpets, furniture, food and wine, have been put on display and visited by millions of people from around the world. Now, they are all being exhibited together for the first time at the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, Egypt. Built at a cost of one billion dollars, it is the biggest archaeological museum in the world.