archaeologist

Photo of the Day

Orlando Villas Boas with two Kalapalo Indians with the supposed bones of Colonel Fawcett. 1952 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Lost City of Z

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett was a famous British explorer who’s legendary adventures captivated the world

Lieutenant Colonel Percival Harrison Fawcett DSO (18 August 1867 – during or after 1925) was a British geographer, artillery officer, cartographer, archaeologist and explorer of South America. He charted the wilderness of South America but then disappeared without a trace while exploring the Brazilian jungle in search of “The Lost City of ‘Z,'” his name for an ancient lost city, which he and others believed to exist and to be the remains of El Dorado, in the jungles of Brazil.

Danger appealed to Fawcett, and over the course of many years, broken only by a return to the army at the outbreak of the First World War, he ventured out on a succession of missions to map the unknown jungle — sometimes alone — and follow up the tantalising clues that the undergrowth masked a hidden civilisation to rival those of Greece or Rome.

During an expedition to find “Z” a place Colonel and South American explorer Percy Fawcett became increasingly engrossed by over the years, Fawcett vanished in the wilderness on his expedition in 1925, along with his two partners, his son Jack, and another friend. The case is one of the wildest mysteries in missing person cases today, and some believe the trio could have been eaten alive by wild animals.

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Photo of the Day

Gertrude Bell, third from left, was flanked by Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence on a visit to the Pyramids in 1921. Credit The Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University.

‘Queen of the Desert’

Gertrude Bell Scaled the Alps, Mapped Arabia, and Midwifed the Modern Middle East

In a picture taken to mark the Cairo Conference of 1921, Gertrude Bell – characteristically elegant in a fur stole and floppy hat, despite being on camel back – sits right at the heart of the action. To one side is Winston Churchill, on her other TE Lawrence.

Bell was his equal in every sense: the first woman to achieve a first (in modern history) from Oxford, an archaeologist, linguist, Arabist, adventurer and, possibly, spy. In her day, she was arguably the most powerful woman in the British Empire – central to the decisions that created the modern Middle East and reverberate still on the nightly news.

Yet while Lawrence is still celebrated, she has largely been forgotten.

Newspaper articles of the time show she was known all over the world. The minutes of the Cairo Conference record her presence at every key discussion but not one of the men mentions her in their memoirs. It’s as if she never existed

How to chart the life of an Englishwoman — an explorer, spy, Mountaineer, translator, and archaeologist — who’s been all but written out of colonial Middle Eastern history? Luckily Gertrude Bell was a prolific letter writer” and “early photography enthusiast and— she left behind some 1,600 letters and over 7,000 photographs. It was an interest in archaeology that helped propel Bell’s many trips into the desert, beginning in 1900 to Palmyra. She nurtured the ambition of being the first to discover and document a site. Early in her travels, she recognised the importance of photographic documentation, along with notes, drawings, rubbings and casts. Bell was a complex, fascinating woman who was pivotal in the tangled history of the modern state of Iraq.

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Photo Of The Day

November 1925. Tutankhamun's burial mask.The photo above was taken just as King Tut’s coffin lid was taken off. Tutankhamun is seen lying intact with a 24-pound burial mask made of solid gold. Photo colorizer Jordan Lloyd of Dynamichrome was recently commissioned to digitally color reconstructed photos of the discovery and exploration of Tutankhaten’s tomb starting in 1922. The project took several months, and a great deal of research was done into finding accurate color references for things seen in the photos. Image by Harry Burton. ©The Griffith Institute, Oxford.

November 1925. Tutankhamun’s burial mask.The photo above was taken just as King Tut’s coffin lid was taken off. Tutankhamun is seen lying intact with a 24-pound burial mask made of solid gold. Photo colorizer Jordan Lloyd of Dynamichrome was recently commissioned to digitally colour reconstructed photos of the discovery and exploration of Tutankhaten’s tomb starting in 1922. The project took several months, and a great deal of research was done into finding accurate color references for things seen in the photos. Image by Harry Burton. ©The Griffith Institute, Oxford.

“I see wonderful things”

Howard Carter, 1922

Entering King Tut’s Tomb

 

“My first care was to locate the wooden lintel above the door: then very carefully I chipped away the plaster and picked out the small stones which formed the uppermost layer of the filling. The temptation to stop and peer inside at every moment was irresistible, and when, after about ten minutes’ work, I had made a hole large enough to enable me to do so, I inserted an electric torch. An astonishing sight its light revealed, for there, within a yard of the doorway, stretching as far as one could see and blocking the entrance to the chamber, stood what to all appearances was a solid wall of gold.”

Howard Carter

While Howard Carter’s find of the mostly intact tomb of a pharaoh may have been lucky, it was the result of a dedicated career in Egyptology and the culmination of consistent exploration.

Howard Carter was born on May 9th, 1874 in the small town of Kensington, London, England. His father, an artist named Samuel John Carter who drew portraits (mostly of animals) for local landowners, trained Howard in the fundamentals of drawing and painting. He was Samuel Carter’s youngest son. But Howard Carter developed an early interest in Egypt, so when he was 17 years old, under the influence of Lady Amherst, a family acquaintance, he set sail for Alexandria, Egypt. It would be his first trip outside of England, and he hoped to work with the Egyptian Exploration Fund as a tracer. Tracers copied drawings and inscriptions on paper for further study.

His first assignment came at Bani Hassan, where he was tasked with recording and copying the scenes from the walls of the tombs of the princes of Middle Egypt. It is said that he worked diligently throughout the day, and slept with the bats in the tombs at night.

It was under the direction of William Flinders Petrie that Carter grew into his own as an archaeologist. Considered as one of the best field archaeologists of this time, Petrie really did not believe that Carter would ever become a good excavator. Yet Carter could have had no better teacher at this point in time. At el Amrna, Carter proved Petrie wrong by unearthing several important finds. During this training period, Carter also worked under Gaston Maspero, who would later become the Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service.

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Photo Of The Day

Photograph by Harry Burton, Griffith Institute, Oxford.

Photograph by Harry Burton, Griffith Institute, Oxford.

The Unbroken Seal On King Tutankhamun’s Tomb, 1922

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