The discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter is one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century and certainly the most famous, as it was the first tomb that had been left pretty much untouched since the time it was sealed. Locked safely inside were scores of artifacts, gold, artwork and even garlands of flowers that disintegrated when touched after lying undisturbed for thousands of years.
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Because the first rule of archeology is break the shit out of everything. Set it on fire if possible.
But all this would have remained a secret if it weren't for the bold ingenuity of Howard Carter, right? Well no, actually. Carter didn't exactly pinpoint the location and miraculously discover it. In fact, he didn't really discover it at all. In 1922, Carter was convinced there was an unknown tomb somewhere in the Valley of Kings in Egypt, but he had no idea where to even start looking. Other archaeologists of the time flat out told him there were no more tombs left to uncover, but Carter went out anyway because those guys could kiss his ass.
"It's out here somewhere, goddamnit."
After weeks of finding nothing but sand and crushing self-doubt, Carter was growing weary. One day, in the middle of digging up a spot where this time there was totally going to be a tomb, you guys, he sent a local boy to get him water. The boy got Carter his water and then started wandering around close by, randomly poking the sand with a stick. In an almost vaudevillian stroke of fate, the stick hit a stone that, when uncovered, revealed a step. The boy rushed to Carter, who heroically took all the credit and moved his digging efforts over to where he knew the ruins were all along.
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"Why are you assholes in the frame? Get out there and 'discover' me a sandwich."
After weeks of removing sand and rock, Carter's team uncovered King Tut's burial chamber, finding innumerable treasures and artifacts, including King Tut himself. The discovery made headlines around the world, and Carter became famous overnight for taking advantage of a poor modern Egyptian boy to plunder the grave of a rich ancient Egyptian boy, because that's what white people do.
For more ridiculous finds, check out 5 Pieces of Junk That Turned Out to be Invaluable Artifacts. Or check out what would've happened if other important items had been trashed.