5th Earl of Carnarvon George Herbert
- Category : 1866-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 2
English peer and aristocrat best known as the financial backer of the search for and excavation of Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Styled Lord Porchester from birth the only son of Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, a distinguished Tory statesman, by his first wife Lady Evelyn Stanhope. He succeeded his father in the earldom in 1890.
Lord Carnarvon married Almina Victoria Maria Alexandra Wombwell, alleged to be the illegitimate daughter of millionaire banker Alfred de Rothschild, of the Rothschild family, on 26 June 1895. Rothschild provided a marriage settlement of £500,000 (equivalent to £58.2 million in 2019 pounds), and paid off all Lord Carnarvon’s existing debts. The Carnarvons had two children.
Exceedingly wealthy due to his marriage settlement, Carnarvon was at first best known as an owner of racehorses, and in 1902 he established Highclere Stud to breed thoroughbred racehorses.
In 1907, Lord Carnarvon undertook to sponsor the excavation of nobles' tombs in Egypt. He employed Howard Carter to undertake the work, on the recommendation of Gaston Maspero, director of the Egyptian Antiquities Department. In 1912, Carnarvon published Five Years’ Exploration at Thebes, co-written with Carter, describing their excavations.
In 1914, Lord Carnarvon received the concession to dig in the Valley of the Kings, replacing Theodore Davis who had resigned. Carter again led the work, undertaking a systematic search of the Valley for any tombs missed by previous expeditions, in particular that of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Excavations were interrupted during the First World War, but resumed in late 1917.
Lord Carnarvon, accompanied by his daughter Lady Evelyn Herbert, returned to Egypt, arriving at Luxor on 23 November 1922. Both were present the next day when the full extent of the stairway to the tomb was cleared and a seal containing the Tutankhamun's cartouche found on the outer doorway. This door was removed and the rubble filled corridor behind cleared, revealing the door of the tomb itself. Carnarvon was also present when, on 26 November, Carter made a tiny breach in the top left hand corner of this doorway, enabling him to peer in by the light of a candle. When Carnarvon asked, "Can you see anything?" Carter replied "Yes, wonderful things!”. The tomb was then secured, to be entered in the presence of an official of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities the next day. However that night, Carter, his assistant Arthur Callender, Carnarvon and Lady Evelyn apparently made an unauthorised visit, becoming the first people in modern times to enter the tomb.
In spite of evidence of break-ins in ancient times, the tomb was virtually intact, and would ultimately be found to contain over 5,000 items.
On 19 March 1923, Carnarvon suffered a severe mosquito bite which became infected by a razor cut. On 5 April, he died at age 56 in the Continental-Savoy Hotel in Cairo caused, according to contemporaneous reports, by blood poisoning progressing to pneumonia.