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Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun.

THE GENERAL understanding of the life and career of Howard Carter is dominated by his discovery in 1922 of the tomb of Tutankhamun. It is sometime overlooked that by this time he had already spent nearly 30 years in Egypt, much of it in archaeological activity other than excavation.

A new book, Howard Carter - The Path to Tutankhamun by T. G. H. James former Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, places the great discovery in the context of Carter's whole career, describing the clearly defined stages by which a young man of 17, brought to Egypt as a "tracer" and knowing little beyond how to use a pencil and an artist's brush was appointed at the age of 26 as the first Chief Inspector of Antiquities in Upper Egypt.

Howard Carter's career before Tutankhamun was by no means confined to grubbing around at unimportant sites. He was fortunate to be working in Egypt during the years when excavation and other forms of field work, especially epigraphy, the study of inscriptions, was developing beyond the amateurism and informal buccaneering of earlier times. His natural talents, practicality and empathy with the Egyptians who lived and worked with him on the prime excavation sites, made him well suited to the uncertain conditions and unpredictable results of archaeological activities. Howard Carter was not an easy man to be involved with, irascible and with a stubborn temper, he often alienated his supporters.

In T. G. H. James' study of this complex character, a man who achieved supreme archaeological triumph, much use has been made of a wide range of documentary sources, including some not previously published. Through its pages we are able to place Howard Carter in the social and political milieux of Egypt at a period of great change.
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Publication:The Middle East
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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