Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?
I’ve written about this possession of mine before. It is a book and I’ve written about it in a post about books that I had as a child, but it is the possession that I was most attached to as a child and so therefore I am writing about it again.
When I was about nine or ten years old, my parents gave me a book for Christmas. It was All About Archaeology. Its cover had a picture of Tutanhkamun’s gold death mask on it. It was one of the most beautiful artifacts I had ever seen. This book contained an overview of various archaeological digs and finds over the past two hundred years or so. It talked about Napoleon’s explorations in Egypt and the translation of the Rosetta Stone and the discovery of and the explorations of the Pyramids and the Sphinx. It detailed the discovery of the ancient city of Ur, thought to be the city of the patriarch Abraham in Iraq by Woolsey, where there were ziggurats, a type of pyramid. I had never heard of this place before and I was fascinated by it. There were drawings of the artifacts that had been found in the city and the ruins. The narrative told all about the excavations and how they were carried out by Woolsey and his team.
The book also detailed the explorations of Catherwood and others of the Maya temples and pyramids in Mexico and Honduras and Guatemala. The pyramids of Teotichlatlan and the Toltec region as well as those ruin of Manchu Pichu in Peru were also included. Much was still not known about the Maya ruins. Their language had not yet been deciphered when the book was written; it has now been decoded and much of it has been read but when the book was written it was a mystery. It was just glyphs that remained locked in mystery.
The most interesting part of the book was the section was the part on the discovery of King Tutanhkamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings by Howard Carter in the 1920s. He was nearing the end of his excavations for Lord Carnavorn and just when he was about to quit, he stumbled upon the entrance to the tomb. The tomb was untouched and intact. It had not be robbed in antiquity and contained untold treasure. There were drawings of the fabulous finds in the tomb. Beautiful statues and chairs. The tomb masks of gold. The beautiful funeral mask on the cover of the book. Then there was the supposed “curse.” Lord Caravorn died soon after the tomb was opened. Several other people who worked on the tomb died. Howard Carter’s pet bird was killed by a snake. Some said it was the “curse” of the boy king whose tomb had been disturbed.
These stories transported me to a science that I loved. I developed a love for the the science of archaeology and for many years I planned to go into this field as a career. Even after I graduated from my undergraduate program at university, I was planning to pursue a graduate study in archaeology but then decided to get married instead. I have always somewhat regretted that I didn’t pursue my interest in this fascinating field.
Whatever happened to my book All About Archaeology? I still have it. It is still in my personal library. It is one of my prized possessions. I have shared it with my daughter when she was young and with my granddaughters when they were young. Maybe someday I will share it with my great-grandchildren, too. It is over 50 years old. It is a classic but in very good shape. I took very good care of it and continue to care for it. It is irreplaceable.