Descendants proudly fete youth who helped discover Tut’s tomb

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The tomb of Tutankhamun, front, in the Valley of the Kings

LUXOR, Egypt — It was 100 years ago on Friday that the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was found in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor in southern Egypt, and descendants of the 12-year-old water boy who is believed to have helped lead to the one of great discoveries in history held a special celebration to mark his contribution.

Tutankhamun, often referred to as King Tut, is known worldwide as the tragic boy king who ascended the throne at age 9 during the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt more than 3,300 years ago, but died at 19.

His tomb was discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter and his team on Nov. 4, 1922. After about eight years of excavation, about 5,000 artifacts, including the pharaoh’s gold mask, along with his mummified body were found in pristine condition.

The find made headlines all over the world, but might not have come about without 12-year-old Hussein Abd el-Rassul.

“He would become so happy when he talked about those times,” said Nubi, Hussein’s fifth son and only survivor among his 10 children.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nubi, son of Hussein Abd el-Rassul, looks at the photograph of his father wearing a necklace from Tutankhamun’s tomb on the wall of his restaurant on Oct. 30.

According to Nubi, Hussein often visited the excavation site with his grandfather, who coordinated excavation workers. On Nov. 4 a century ago, Hussein was aboard a donkey carrying jars of water for excavation workers when the animal stumbled and a jar suddenly broke, spilling a large amount of water.

The water revealed stairs leading down to an underground tomb. “It’s a great source of pride,” Nubi said.

On the wall of a restaurant run by Nubi hangs a photograph of Hussein wearing a necklace from Tutankhamun’s tomb, which he said was put on him by Carter in honor of his achievement. Nubi revels in pointing it out to tourists and others.

“I want many people to know that the tomb is a treasure of humanity,” said Nubi, who invited other descendants and local residents to the celebratory feast on Friday.

The anniversary of the discovery is attracting large numbers of tourists to the tomb.

“The story of the discovery will continue to be passed down and attract people from around the world,” said. Bahaa Gaber, director of the antiquities inspectorate of the west bank at Luxor of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt.