Back to the Carter house in Luxor.
The next room, which was a lovely surprise, was his darkroom and the room where the water jars were stored to keep the water clean and cool. I’m not sure that it was all this clean and white however when he lived there as his house was surrounded by desert at this time and things never stay that clean for long!!! And he would not have had those beautiful Nubian pottery lamps which shine their beautiful patterns on the prisitine walls. But I love the look! In the reconstruction they have done a great job.
They have a rather huge camera outside his darkroom, which once belonged to Harry Burton, the official Tutankhamun photographer. It must have made photography quite a challenge in those days. He would have had to carry it to the site, set it up and then carry it back to the house again when he was finished. It would have been a major production!!!!
But it is a beautiful piece of workmanship. Made mainly of wood it looks more like a printing press than a camera!!! But it did have wheels, or rather casters, so there was some mobility. Although not necessarily on the desert floor!! Looking at the photos of the excavation it is also clear that they were not spontaneous photos but well-planned operations!!! Everything is perfectly executed!!!
His darkroom was painted a dark red and pink. Was this its original colour? It was separated into two rooms and was certainly dark enough for me to use my flash on the camera! It was such a lovely idea to imagine him working in the dark with all his chemicals, slowly developing his photos of the tomb and its artefacts. I could imagine his focus and excitement, and his frustration when everything had to stop for wars, internal ministry issues and money problems. But he was a man with incredible perseverance. He knew it was there somewhere and he didn’t give up looking.
I can identify with his thinking in many ways. All of my adult life I have tried, unsuccessfully, to create a life where I could live like he did. Exploring, digging, recording and writing. As an adult I went to Winchester University to study practical archaeology because, A) I have always loved it and B) my phantasy (as opposed to fantasy!) was to live a life where I could totally focus on my research and discoveries without having to talk or interact with too many people!!! I could be totally immersed in what I was doing, like a laboratory technician and his/her microscope. I yearned for that life. However, the life of a healer is never a solitary one!! But I still yearn for the freedom to be immersed in some creative, exploratory venture which very little disturbance!!!
The next room was the kitchen. Oh…it felt so spacious and light. It had a Frigidaire!!! A gas cooker and another cooker. And running water. He created the comforts of home. Power came from a generator outside the house and the running water was housed in a water tank on the roof, which may have been gravity fed! I had never seen a gas cooker this old and was sceptical that they even existed. I was also sceptical about the electric oven and the fridge? But, reality notwithstanding, I decided that I want a kitchen just like it someday! As it turned out however, there was every possibility that the Frigidaire was genuine as they were first put on sale in 1913 and Carter lived in this house until after 1922, which is the year they discovered Tutankhamuns’ tomb. Gas ovens too were in existence since the late 19th century so maybe…
Some of the items were copies of original items but they don’t tell you which is real and which is not. But I guess it doesn’t matter as they are all ‘age-authenic’.
The furniture in the kitchen had all been stencilled too which I wondered about! But perhaps it was done to make it look old?
I did love the old cupboard though! It was one of those with the wire mesh to keep the flies off the food! It reminded me of the outdoor cupboards from the which we used to have in the ‘old’ days and which were used to keep the food cool in. We used to put food that needed to be cool, like cheese,meat etc, in it. It not only kept it cool but kept the flies off too. For people who lived on farms this latter protection was invaluable!!!
All told, I loved this kitchen. I loved the white, airiness of it and the space!!! It was clean and clear. He must have loved living here although I doubt that he spent much time in here!!! He would have had other people to cook for him.I also loved the cooker hood. This is a definite Western influence as Egyptian homes do not have these and this one looks more like a chimney breast than a hood but there was a hole in the wall behind this which allowed the warm air from cooking to filter outside. If you have tried cooking in an Egyptian kitchen you will know how important it is to have a air extraction system as it gets pretty hot in there!!! This cooker hood allowed the hot air ‘out’ instead of adding to the already stifling hot kitchen.
But the dining-room? That he would have spent time in! But I will write about that tomorrow!