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Tutankhamun thrones purchased by Swaffham emporium owners ahead of Howard Carter centenary celebrations

Two Tutankhamun thrones have been purchased from Cairo by the owner of a town's emporium, after the seller discovered she was related to archaeologist Howard Carter.

Susan Allen and her husband Steve have been stepping up their preparations at the Swaffham-based Tutankhamun's Emporium to mark the centenary of Carter's discovery in 1922.

The tombs were acquired in November and have become a prominent part of the museum, which has reopened to the public following the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Tutankhamun's Emporium owner Susan Allen with the two thrones which were purchased and sent from Cairo
Tutankhamun's Emporium owner Susan Allen with the two thrones which were purchased and sent from Cairo

Mrs Allen is the great-niece of Carter and said she would like to see a statue built for the archaeologist as part of the centenary celebrations in two years time.

On the purchase of the tombs, she said: "Someone who lived in Cairo heard about my connection to Howard Carter and informed me about the tombs. Once I saw them, I thought I wanted to purchase them. A lot of people come to see them and we are now trying to expand.

"We are also trying to get Swaffham Town Council to get a statue in the town as it is important to have something that will be there for a long time and which will help people realise what he did for the town. He [Carter] is quite a prominent figure throughout history and a statue would get people to know that he lived here before his discovery."

Mrs Allen said the recent controversy which saw Edward Colston's statue being thrown into the River Avon in Bristol has not dissuaded her belief that one is needed in Swaffham.

This view is shared by the landlord of the Red Lion pub, Rob Bartram, who informed Mrs Allen about the person who originally owned the Tutankhamun thrones in Cairo.

Mr Bartram has been a vocal campaigner for a Howard Carter statue in Swaffham, and said the town council money which went towards 100 umbrellas for local businesses would have been better spent elsewhere.

Regarding the recent statue furore, the landlord said: "It is just people being snowflakes. No one alive today is affected by these statues. Do not rip them down as they can be put in a museum and can bring footfall into the town as shown by Captain Mainwaring and Thomas Paine in Thetford.

"He [Carter] probably did use underpaid people in Egypt to dig out the sand but if you dig the skeletons in anyone's cupboard you might find something."

Tutankhamun's Emporium, located in the Market Place, has a bistro serving Egyptian food such as tagine and lamb. Mr Allen has produced some hieroglyphics for the walls at the site as well.

Susan Allen with the two Tutankhamun Thrones. Pictures: Paul Marsh
Susan Allen with the two Tutankhamun Thrones. Pictures: Paul Marsh

Mrs Allen said: "We are slowly getting plans together for the centenary. We have artefacts and props, and we have been talking to Egyptologists to present it all so people can come and have a day here."

Howard Carter moved to Swaffham from London soon after his birth. Most of his childhood was spent in the market town, while some of his family members are buried there.

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