Who Discovered King Tut’s Tomb?

Jun 9, 2023

person at the Beyond King Tut exhibit reads about archaeologist Howard Carter

The discovery of King Tut’s tomb made headlines across the globe and captured the attention of millions. This was a great archaeological achievement, and it would have a lasting impact on both the understanding of the ancient world and modern culture. The tomb had been found in outstanding condition, since its hidden entrance kept it undisturbed for thousands of years. When it comes to taking credit for it, who found King Tut’s tomb? 

According to an oral history told in the Valley of the Kings, it was a 12-year-old boy named Hussein Abdel Rasoul who made the discovery. As the story goes, Rasoul had been tasked with transporting jugs of water for the local laborers who were part of the excavation team. After completing his journey to the work site, Rasoul used a stick to dig holes in the sand to balance the water jugs and keep them upright. While digging one of these holes, the boy struck a stone and began to unearth it, uncovering the top step of the flight of stairs that descended to King Tut’s tomb.  

The official account of events told by Howard Carter, the British archaeologist in charge of the expedition to find Tutankhamun’s tomb, tells a much different story. According to Carter, it was a laborer on his team who discovered the carved stone step. The team proceeded to unearth the remainder of the steps, and at the foot of them was the entrance to King Tut’s tomb. 

Although Carter makes no mention of young Hussein Abdel Rasoul, the story lives on as legend in the Valley of the Kings.