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Beyond the World news headlines

How Reuters told the world about Tutanhkamun in February 1923


It was on the November 26, 1922 that archaeologist, Howard Carter looked through a small opening chipped in a 3000 year old wall and saw the glittering chaos of the ante room of the tomb of the Boy Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

“Can you see anything?” asked Lord Carnarvon, his chief backer.

“Yes, wonderful things” replied Carter.

The world went ‘Tut’ mad. From fashion to interior design, from Hollywood movies to hairstyles, ‘Egyptian’ became the ‘must-have-theme’ of the moment.

TUT_2_FWHowever, a burning question still remained unanswered. Was the young Pharaoh still in his grave beneath the dust and heat of the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor? Was the sarcophagus intact and was he the only pharaoh in the valley whose mummy had escaped the depredations of grave robbers? For the answer to this question, the public had to wait a further couple of months until February 1923.

Reuters sent Valentine Williams, brother of Chief Editor Douglas Williams, to Egypt as its special correspondent. However, there was a snag. Lord Carnarvon had reached an agreement with The Times for exclusive rights to the story. Despite this, Williams contrived not only to obtain news of the discovery of the intact sarcophagus within minutes of its happening but also to be the first to get a ‘flash’ out to the world.