My first book, Carter’s Conundrums opens with Meredith (Merry) Pink discovering she’s been inadvertently locked in the Howard Carter Museum in Luxor. Merry’s there in early May 2012. The museum opened in late 2009, and I visited in March 2011. It was once Howard Carter’s home, where he lived during the thrilling years leading up to, and after, his discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Here I am standing outside.
Here’s a link to the website of Zahi Hawass, former Minister of Antiquities and Director of Cairo Museum (he resigned during Egypt’s revolution). He talks about his decision to restore Howard Carter’s former home to its original glory as a museum, after years of neglect. Hawass also mentions his plans to build replica tombs near to Valley of the Kings. His goal was to close the genuine tombs of Nefertari and Tutankhamun, among others, and permit visitors to visit ‘replica’ tombs, perfect in every detail … except authenticity. It sounds a bit Disney to me, but I admire his determination to preserve the ‘real’ tombs for posterity.
Another great source of information about Howard Carter’s house is TripAdvisor. Visitors post their opinions, and some great photos of the house inside and out.
I visited on a family holiday. My nearest and dearest are pretty tolerant of my obsession with all things Egyptological, and waited for me in the rest-house outside, with its fabulous views towards the Valley. So, for a few precious moments I had the inside of Howard Carter’s old home completely to myself. Even the ubiquitous guide left me alone. The atmosphere was thick with nostalgia. I felt I might turn at any moment and find Howard Carter himself emerging from a doorway. Strange, the way time can feel such a distorted concept. Anyway … I think that’s where the idea for Carter’s Conundrums first took hold, though I didn’t put pen to paper for another year.
It seemed to me to be a place whispering secrets … if only I could just tune into the right wavelength. So I let my imagination take over, and book 1 of Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt is the result.
Howard Carter’s house isn’t included on the standard tour itineraries. If you’re lucky enough to be in Luxor any time soon, don’t miss it. It’s a rare treasure.