Howard Carter was born on May 9, 1874, in Kensington, London. His father Samuel Carter was a successful artist. Howard was a sickly child, and was sent to live with his aunts in Norfolk. He had private home schooling, and had an artistic streak from an early age.
Carter spent much of his childhood with relatives in the Norfolk market town of Swaffham, the birthplace of both his parents. Nearby was the mansion of the Amherst family, Didlington Hall, containing a sizable collection of Egyptian antiques, which sparked Carter's interest in that subject. In 1891 the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF), on the prompting of Mary Cecil, sent Carter to assist an Amherst family friend, Percy Newberry, in the excavation.
Although only 17, Carter was innovative in improving the methods of copying tomb decoration. In 1892, he worked under the tutelage of Flinders Petrie for one season at Amarna, the capital founded by the pharaoh Akhenaten. From 1894 to 1899, he worked with Édouard Naville at Deir el-Bahari, where he recorded the wall reliefs in the temple of Hatshepsut.
In 1899, Carter was appointed to the position of Chief Inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service (EAS). He supervised a number of excavations at Thebes (now known as Luxor). In 1904, he was transferred to the Inspectorate of Lower Egypt. Carter was praised for his improvements in the protection of, and accessibility to, existing excavation sites, and his development of a grid-block system for searching for tombs. The Antiquities Service also provided funding for Carter to head his own excavation projects.
Carter resigned from the Antiquities Service in 1905 after a formal inquiry into what became known as the Saqqara Affair, a noisy confrontation between Egyptian site guards and a group of French tourists. Carter sided with the Egyptian personnel.
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