Curse of Tutankhamen

And now for something completely different…We all know the image of the mummy who appears swaddled in bandages every Halloween. You probably also know of the famous curse of Tutankhamen…

Curse of Tutankhamen

The story goes that  when Howard Carter opened the pharaoh’s tomb in 1922 it unleashed a dreadful curse which according to the Daily Express appeared in a hieroglyphic inscription that stated;

“They who enter this sacred tomb shall swiftly be visited by the wings of death”.

Except, well, it didn’t. Neither in Tutankhamen’s or any other known tomb is there any inscription of this type.

The nearest equivalent in Tutankhamen’s tomb appears over a shrine to the jackal headed god Anubis and reads;

“It is I who hinder the sand from choking the secret chamber. I am for the protection of the deceased”.

Doesn’t really have the same ring to it does it?

It is true that Lord Carnarvon who sponsored the expedition died a few weeks after the tomb was opened due to a septic mosquito bite. Yet of the twenty-six deaths attributed to the “curse” only six occurred within a decade of its opening. Howard Carter who would presumably be the most obvious recipient of the boy Pharaohs fury lived for another seventeen years.

So where did the story of the mummy’s curse come from? In 1828 an English woman called Jane Louden Webb wrote a successful novel called The Mummy and it was in this book that she introduced the idea of the “curse”. The theme became very popular, even Louisa May Alcott author of the decidedly un-horrific novel Little Women wrote a “mummy” story.

Two later novelists; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – of Sherlock Holmes fame and the lesser known Marie Corelli fed the press with stories of pharaoh’s seeking revenge from beyond the grave – Corelli even claimed she had warned Carnarvon what would happen if he broke the seal on the tomb.

Therefore, it was the imagination of writers and the media’s need for a sensational story that led to the fictitious notion of Tutankhamen planning a frightful fate for anyone who disturbed his rest. Nevertheless, the story did not die down and as late as 1970 a policeman guarding a touring exhibition of Tutankhamen’s artefacts complained a stroke he suffered was the result of the “mummy’s curse”.

As for Tutankhamen? Mmmm, well he’s keeping mum!

For your Chinese Weekly Horoscope or Indian Weekly Horoscope

 

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Post Author: Patrick Arundell

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