There are few names in archaeology as famous as Howard Carter – the man who, in 1922, headed up the team who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.
Over the years, however, the Egyptians have become increasingly suspicious that Carter may have helped himself to some of the tomb’s relics before the vault was officially opened.
While evidence of this has been somewhat thin on the ground, a previously unpublished letter sent to him in 1934 could serve to prove his guilt once and for all.
Written by leading philologist Sir Alan Gardiner, the letter concerns an amulet that Carter had given him as compensation for translating some hieroglyphics.
When Gardiner had showed the amulet to the British director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, he learned that the artefact was “undoubtedly stolen from the tomb of Tutankhamun.”
“I deeply regret having been placed in so awkward a position,” he told Carter in the letter.
“I naturally did not tell Engelbach that I obtained the amulet from you.”
The letter would seem to confirm that Carter did indeed steal from the tomb.
Exactly how many items he took, however, remains unclear.