An archive of wondrous things

An interesting article in today’s Observer tells the story of a soon-to-be-complete online archive of wondrous things – the notes, photographs and diaries of archaeologist Howard Carter’s excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb.  From the Observer article

This is the Griffith Institute – arguably the best Egyptology library in the world. One of its most prized collections incorporates the notes, photographs and diaries of the English archaeologist Howard Carter, who discovered Tutankhamun’s resting place in 1922. The only intact pharaoh’s tomb ever discovered, it contained such an array of treasures that it took Carter 10 years to catalogue them all. Yet despite the immense significance of the discovery, the majority of Carter’s findings have never been published, and many questions surrounding the tomb remain unanswered.

Jaromir Malek is the soft-spoken keeper of the archive whose own Tutankhamun project is nearing completion. By making all of Carter’s notes available online, Malek wanted to ensure that the public would have access to the full extent of the discovery – and to spur Egyptologists into finishing the job of studying the tomb’s contents. He has ended up creating a model that other researchers hope will transform the field of archaeology.

The effort has taken even longer than Carter’s gruelling excavation. It began in 1993, when Malek says he realised that fewer than a third of the artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb had been properly studied and published, a situation he describes as “unacceptable”.


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