The Earl and the Pharaoh
From the Real Downton Abbey to the Discovery of Tutankhamun
by The Countess of Carnarvon
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Pub Date 06 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 31 Jan 2023
Bestselling author the Countess of Carnarvon tells the thrilling behind-the-scenes story of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun on its centennial, and explores the unparalleled life of family ancestor George Herbert—the famed Egyptologist, world-traveler, and 5th Earl of Carnarvon behind it—whose country house, Highclere Castle, is the setting of the beloved series Downton Abbey.
In November 1922, the world was mesmerized by news of an astonishing historical find in Egypt’s legendary Valley of Kings: the discovery of the tomb of the Egyptian Pharoah Tutankhamun. George Herbert, himself a famed amateur Egyptologist and noted antiquities collector, financed the expedition and excavation headed by lead archaeologist Howard Carter, and accompanied him inside this sacred space that had remained untouched for centuries.
Inside the tomb, the explorers found King Tut’s sarcophagus and a treasure trove of astonishing artifacts: chariots and model boats, board games and paintings, a coffin made of pure gold. But these objects were more than just beautifully crafted works of art; they shed new light on Tutankhamun world and this fabled period of history, and changed our understanding of how the ancient Egyptians had lived—transforming overnight what had been formed through centuries of history and myth.
Drawing on Highclere Castle’s archives, the Countess of Carnarvon pays homage to her ancestor on the 100th anniversary of this extraordinary event. In vivid and dramatic detail, she brings into focus the larger-than-life characters and lustrous settings—as well as those twists of luck and tragedies that shaped Herbert’s life. Across the early 1900s, Highclere saw no less drama than the fictional Downton Abbey, with early tragedies for the Earl and love affairs, as well highs of exorbitant wealth and trials of punishing debt. But above all there was adventure. While Herbert first went to Egypt for his health, this mysterious, romantic land would become a second home; the beloved place where he funneled his attentions over a period of decades, never quite realizing how great the fruits of his labors would prove.
The Earl and the Pharaoh features two 2 8-page full-color photo inserts.