The Curse of the Pharaohs

There are many accounts of strange incidents occurring when private tombs, such as the tomb of Ankhtifi, were broken into or discovered. In the year of 1699, a man by the name Lois Penicher wrote an account of a Polish traveler who brought two mummies onto his ship to transport them to a different location. The traveler kept seeing visions of the two spirits haunting his ship, and the sea did not calm until he had the mummies were thrown over the side of the ship.

Another instance of the alleged ‘Pharaohs Curse’ was when a young archaeologist excavating at the tomb of Kom Abu-Bellou had to transport artifacts from the site. His cousin died that same day, his uncle died exactly one year later, and on the third anniversary of delivering the artifacts, his aunt died. Years later, when he was yet again excavating another tomb, he discovered, and managed to understand, a curse. “All people who enter this tomb who will make evil against this tomb and destroy it may the crocodile be against them in water, and snakes against them on land. May the hippopotamus be against them in water, the scorpion against them on land.” Though he was not superstitious, he still avoided the tomb entirely.

Later, however, he was a part of the removal of two children mummies, taking them to a museum. He reported that he was haunted by the two in his dreams. The nightmares didn’t abate until the father of the two children was reunited with the two young mummies. He finally deduced that the family of mummies should not be displayed to the public, though it was better than letting the public into the tombs themselves.

There was also an incident involving a sick boy who loved the ancient Egyptian myths, and stories. He was allegedly cured of his illness when he looked into the eyes of the mummy of Ahmose I.

The Pharaohs Curse soon became more popular after the death of Howard Carter and his team, along with other key visitors to the tomb of King Tutankhamun after it was opened. The tomb was opened in 1922. The famous Egyptologist James Breasted worked with Howard Carter soon after the opening. Carter had sent a messenger to his house. As the messenger approached, he thought he heard a ‘faint, almost human’ sound. Upon reaching the entrance, he saw the canary cage was occupied by a cobra, and the small bird was dead in its mouth. The situation was interpreted as Carter’s house being broken into by the Royal Cobra, which was the same as the one worn on the King’s head on the same day the tomb was opened.

The first ‘mysterious death’ was that of Lord Carnarvon. He was bitten by a mosquito during the day, and cut the bite area later when he was shaving. It quickly became infected, and the Lord died due to blood poisoning.

In 1925, a man named Henry Field visited the tomb. He spoke of how a paperweight given to Carter’s friend was composed of a mummified hand.  Its wrist had a scarab bracelet marked with the hieroglyphs “Cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water, and pestilence.” Soon after receiving the paperweight, his house was burned down in an accident. When it was finished being rebuilt, it was destroyed by an unforeseen flood.

However, skeptics of the curse has pointed out that many others who were in the tomb or helped discover it have lived long and healthy lives. A study showed that on the fifty-eight people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, only eight died within the next dozen years. All the others were still alive, including Carter, who died at the age of 64 due to Lymphoma. The last survivors included Lady Evelyn Herbert, Lord Carnarvon’s daughter who was among the first people to enter the tomb, who lived for a further 57 years and died in 1980. American archaeologist J.O. Kinnaman who died in 1961, a full 39 years after the event took place. There were around eleven deaths within the first ten years of Tut’s tomb being opened.

Maybe the reign of the Pharaohs Curse is over, but with new tombs being discovered, more curses may be awoken.




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