We’re back with the 80 Famous People series, this time it’s Howard Carter, the Brit who discovered Tutankhamun’s (King Tut) burial site in 1922. According to the wiki entry, Carter was born in London in 1874, but was raised in Norfolk, probably because of ill health. His father was an artist, and he encouraged Howard to draw as well. At age 17, Howard was attached to the Egypt Exploration Fund to assist in excavations and to document the various tomb decorations (required because still film photography was an emerging and expensive technology at the time; George Eastman had just created his film process in 1888, replacing the use of glass plates). Carter worked on several sites, and was appointed as the first chief inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service in 1899. An incident involving a group of French tourists and Egyptian site guards resulted in his resigning in 1905. He was reduced to selling paintings on the street for 3 years before a friend introduced him to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert. Herbert had been an explorer and sportsman until he was severely injured in a car accident. He was sent to Egypt to recover his health and he wanted to hire someone to do some excavating for him. Carter agreed and suggested that they look for the rumored tomb of Tutankhamun. They spent 5 years looking in the Valley of Kings before Carnarvon threatened to cut the funding for the work. Carter talked him into extending the support for one more year, and finally located the tomb in 1922 (work was suspended for 3 years due to WW I). All of the royalties from the discoveries went to Herbert. Carter worked on cataloging the thousands of items found until 1932, after which he retired from archeology and became a part-time agent for collectors and museums. He died of lymphoma at age 65 in 1939.
The intro manga has Merrino discovering a strangely decorated metal tin in a park, and Daichi claims that according to one of the school legends, there’s supposed to be a haunted box nearby. Youichi hesitates to open it because he’s afraid of the curse, then he drops the box and the cover pops off to reveal a dessicated frog. In the wrap-up, Youichi’s mother arrives from shopping, and reminds the kids that they’d buried a time capsule a few years ago. Daichi and Utako are relieved to find their toys and hair accessories inside, and Youichi suddenly remembers that he’d stuck his live pet frog, Mopy, in the box. A little later, Merrino finds another box, this one dripping with evil wards and a black cloud.
The main manga is by Konatsu Uraji (Machikou!, Momokon Teacher), who had worked on mook #5 on Mozart. The art on this mook is pretty good regarding the backgrounds and treasures. Unfortunately, Carter, who had been in his 40’s during the period portrayed in the story, is drawn as being no more than 20 here. Most of the characters look nothing like their photos.
The story starts with Carter, age 17, working for Flinders Petrie and excitedly finding a buried box that turns out to be one of the local people’s lunch. Petrie tells the boy about Tutankhamun, and reassures him that archeology is all about not giving up. We jump to 1907, when Carter is reduced to selling drawings on the street. An unnamed friend comes up and gives him the name of someone that’s looking for an archeologist. Carter jumps at the paper and ends up interviewing with the Earl of Carnarvon. They agree to look for King Tut’s tomb, but that’s believed to be located in the Valley of Kings, and at the moment, the American Theodore Davis has the contract with the Egyptian government to excavate there. Carter and Carnarvon explore elsewhere, biding their time.
Finally, after working the site for 7 years, Davis gives up and returns his contract to Egypt. The government official in charge tries to talk Carter out of looking for Tut’s tomb, citing all the previous failures, but Carter is insistent. With the new contract, Carter first tries one specific location that only yields the remains of some small building walls. They go to Davis’ site, and after 5 years, Carnarvon’s health fails and he decides to pull his funding because of the huge expenses amassed so far. Carter demands one more chance and forfeits his rights to anything they find in the future. Carnarvon agrees, and his daughter, Evelyn, pleads with Howard to find the tomb for her ailing father’s sake. That night, Carter begs Tut to give him a sign. He remembers Petrie’s words about returning to where you started and to resume digging. The next day he goes back to where he uncovered the ruined walls. Soon, he finds a sealed entrance with stairs to an underground passage. Carter wires London to have Carnarvon join him in Egypt. With the Earl and Evelyn standing with him, Carter makes a small exploratory hole in the wall at the end of the passage. Looking in the hole by candle light, he makes his famous quote when the Earl asks him what he sees, saying “Wondrous things”. The story ends with Carter finally opening Tut’s tomb and greeting the long-forgotten king.
The textbook section focuses heavily on Carter’s time in Egypt and his work with the Egyptian Antiquities Service. There are sidebars on Petrie, Carnarvon, and the speculated reason why Tut’s name had been removed from the List of Kings. There’s a mention of the shock Carter got when Davis prematurely announced that he’d found Tut’s tomb. One article claims that the current English spelling for Tut’s name came from the romaji spelling when it was rendered into Japanese and then back to English. Another section claims that while Carter apparently was attracted to Evelyn, their differences in family positions prevented him from marrying her. The last two pages include a floor map of the tomb with descriptions of some of the items found, plus partial instructions for how to turn corpses into mummies.
Comments: Overall, this is a very informative volume, and the artwork isn’t all that distracting. The main manga is as shlocky as most of the other mooks in the series, but that’s to be expected because it’s aimed at children. The textbook section is more complete, and better than the English wiki article. Recommended.
The 80 Famous People series seems to be winding down, and so far there’s been no announcement I’ve seen about extending it again. The remaining featured names are Robert Capa (Hungarian combat photographer), Confucius, Oscar Shindler (Shindler’s List fame), John D. Rockefeller, Hideo Noguchi (Japanese bacteriologist), Clara Schumann (Pianist) and Neil Armstrong. I intend to get the mooks for Noguchi and Armstrong, and I’m tempted to also pick up Capa and Confucius. We’ll see.
On the Gakken Otono no Kagaku, front, Gakken has officially announced the release date for the next adult science kit (the updated pinhole planetarium) as July 25th. Interestingly, though, it seems that they’ve taken down their Facebook page and their developer’s blog. This really limits the amount of information coming out of the company to primarily just the newsletters (which usually get released a few days before the numbered kits come out). I’m particularly annoyed by this because I was planning to post a link to my video of the Japanino + Flip Clock to their FB page after I finished it. Sigh.