In 1905, archaeology in Egypt is a rich man's game, the preserve of aristocrats and tycoons... except for the lone figure of Howard Carter.
Carter is a genius and someone that even expert archaeologists turn to for advice. One of them is Maggie Lewis, a member of the New York Met Museum's dig team. Maggie is fond of Carter and tries to get him to join her dig but Carter is determined to plough his own furrow.
Maggie brings to Carter's attention a faience cup and sets the archaeologist off on a trail of discoveries that points to something incredible. Carter becomes convinced that there is a royal tomb that's forgotten by history and waiting to be discovered. He believes the tomb belongs to the boy king Tutankhamun, a little known Pharaoh whose legacy has been lost to the sands of time. Maggie dismisses Carter's theories out of hand but he pursues it with single-minded determination.
Only one man has enough faith in Carter's brilliance to financially back him, Lord Carnarvon. He and Carter form the unlikeliest of partnerships: the dashing maverick aristocrat and the outcast genius, who had no formal training in archaeology. Together they join forces to unearth the greatest archaeological marvel the world has ever seen...
Carnarvon's teenage daughter Evelyn is swept away by the magic of the Valley of the Kings and she believes Carter's theory of a lost tomb. An off-hand comment from Evelyn leads Carter to think that the tomb might be right under their noses, in the centre of the Valley of the Kings.
But the outbreak of World War 1 means that Carter's dream has to be put on hold – perhaps forever.
In 1918, World War 1 is drawing to a close. Determined to renew his search for thelost tomb, Carter resumes work at his dig site. Also, returning to Egypt is Maggie –keen to pick up romantically where she left off with Carter.
Lord Carnarvon comes out to see what progress is being made and is accompanied by his daughter, Evelyn, now a beautiful young woman. Evelyn shares Carter's passion for Egypt and the two form a deep bond.
Maggie's keen to take her relationship with Carter to the next level. But it's clear toher that his heart lies elsewhere with Evelyn.
Meanwhile the dig has hit a dead end. Carnarvon, having spent vast swathes of his family fortune, can no longer afford the dig and he has to cut his losses. Carter tries to convince his patron to stick with him and vows to sell his home as well as all his belongings to finance the dig himself. Evelyn takes Carter's side and Carnarvon gives into his daughter's persuasion. Carnarvon allows Carter one last roll of the dice not knowing that his daughter and Carter have embarked on a clandestine love affair.
The gamble pays off and they discover a tomb entrance under the sand. Could this be Tutankhamun's tomb?
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