Aug 4, 2014

King Tut's Tomb Was Discovered by Two Gay Men

Everybody has heard about Howard Carter (1874-1939), the Egyptologist who was excavating in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in 1922, when he discovered a tomb that had somehow escaped three thousand years of grave robbers.  It belonged to Tuntakhamun or King Tut, who died in 1321 BC, at age 18 (you can see a reconstructed head and torso, nipples and all, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London).

He became a celebrity during the 20th century, portrayed in popular culture by everyone from Victor Buono (on Batman) to Steve Martin (on Saturday Night Live), with Howard Carter himself almost forgotten.

But Carter didn't just stumble onto a tomb.  He was a competent Egyptologist with four gay connections.

 1. He never married.

That was not, in itself, unusual during the early years of the 20th century.  Medical science of the era taught that sexual activity was extremely hazardous, sometimes fatal, and should be avoided whenever possible, so many men avoided it altogether.

2. He studied Arabic so he could communicate more readily with Arab men.

3. When he realized that he had discovered something big, he wired George Herbert, Earl of Carnavon (1866-1923), who bankrolled the expedition, to share in the opening of the tomb with him.

Herbert was an avid Egyptologist (he died of an infected mosquito bite during an expedition).

And wealthy (his home is now used to film Downton Abbey). 
And gay.  He was married, but his wife, Almina, learned to tolerate his affairs, expecially in the field.

4. Rumor has it that Carter and Herbert were lovers.  It's impossible to know for sure after 100 years, but both seemed to prefer Arab men, keying into the fetishization of the Orient common in the era.  So maybe not.

See also: Ancient Egyptian Beefcake.