When most people think of Tutankhamun, they think, rightly, of the Egyptian king's tomb artifacts: including alabaster jars, gilded chariots and most of all the golden sarcophagus. But powering that astonishing 1922 discovery, and contextualizing it afterward, were the materials generated by the find's lead archaeologist, Howard Carter.
In 1995, the staff of Oxford University's Griffith Institute of Egyptology, the custodians of Carter's papers, started digitizing his Tut archive. The collection included all the photographs, glass negatives, reams of notes and diaries from the 1922 excavation's lead archaeologist, Howard Carter. Now, every bit of it is online at a database titled Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation.
Carter's life was a difficult one. Professionally, as a working class scholar, he relied on the money he got from the dig's sponsor Lord Carnarvon. He was ill-fed and ill-clad much of the time and pushed himself very hard. In the years between the end of the excavation in 1932 and his death in 1939 he was not able to publish much of what he'd learned.
So, as famous as Tut became, and the material remains in the king's tomb, Carter's research languished. Most scholars in the field never saw more than a scant percentage of Carter's work and the public at large was exposed to much less than that. Now, 3,500 note cards, over 1,000 photographs, 60 maps and much else besides is available, in addition to photos of the 5,400 grave objects, to anyone with an Internet connection.
The astonishing thing, as the Guardian points out, is the fact that Dr. Jaromir Malek and his staff at the Griffith did this in their spare time. Carter's a hero but no less so are the Griffith staff. They scanned the paper itself in image files and uploaded transcribed and searchable versions of all writing.