Monday 1 March 2021

Pharaoh’s Curse: Killed People Who Opened Tutankhamun Tomb

 In ancient Egypt, Pharaoh’s curses were common and were associated with symbols of authority like pharaohs whether alive or dead. The curses were sometimes faced on the tomb entrance to protect the dead and the monuments from being disturbed or looted. The people of Egypt considered the pharaoh to be a half-man, half-god.


The most famous curse of Tutankhamun was brought to the attention of the people due to the mysterious deaths of some of Howard Carter’s team and the people who visited Tutankhamun’s tomb afterward.


The curse of Pharaohs was allegedly cast upon people who disturbed the mummy of an ancient Egyptian, especially the Pharaohs.


TUTANKHAMUN’s tomb is said to hold a curse that was broken by archaeologists when they entered to search its contents and affected more than 20 of them in a matter of years.


It is said: “When Carter poked a hole into the tomb, Lord Carnarvon asked if he could see anything and Carter famously replied ‘yes wonderful things’.


“It is alleged he found a curse written in hieroglyphics upon a clay tablet reading: ‘Death will slay with his wings whoever disturbs the pharaoh’s peace.’


Five months after entering the tomb, Lord Carnarvon, aged 56, was dead. And at the time of his death, all of the lights went out in Cairo. "However, the strange activity did not stop there.


Who was Tutankhamun? Nearly lost to history

Tutankhamun was only the age of nine when he became king of Egypt during the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom (c. 1332–1323 B.C.E.). His story would have been lost to history if it were not for the discovery of his tomb in 1922 by the archaeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings.


His nearly intact tomb held a wealth of objects that give us unique insights into this period of ancient Egyptian history. Tutankhamun married his half-sister, Ankhesenamun, but they did not produce an heir. This left the line of succession unclear.


Tutankhamun died at the young age of eighteen, leading many scholars to speculate on the manner of his death—chariot accident, murder by blow to the head, and even a hippopotamus attack! The answer is still unclear.


Howard Carter: Who Opened Tutankhamun

On 26 November 1922 Howard Carter, a British Egyptologist, stood before a sealed door blocking a dark corridor. Behind him stood his patron Lord Carnarvon. Both men knew that they were standing in the tomb of the 18th-Dynasty boy king Tutankhamun – the sealing on the now dismantled outer door had made that clear.


Carter came upon the first of twelve steps of the entrance that led to the tomb of Tutankhamun. He quickly recovered the steps and sent a telegram to Carnarvon in England so they could open the tomb together. Carnarvon departed for Egypt immediately and on November 26, 1922, they made a hole in the entrance of the antechamber in order to look in.


But the outer door had also shown the unmistakable signs of more than one forced entry. Was Tutankhamun still lying undisturbed in his tomb? Or had the ancient robbers once again thwarted the modern archaeologists? Nervously, his hands trembling, Carter forced a small hole in the left hand corner of the doorway, lit a candle, and peered inside.


“Presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ‘Can you see anything?’ it was all I could do to get out the words ‘Yes, wonderful things’.”


The next day the doorway was unblocked and an electric light installed. Carter and Carnarvon found themselves standing in the antechamber, an untidy room packed with everything that an Egyptian king could possibly need for an enjoyable afterlife.


But Carter’s attention was fixed on the northern wall. Here, blocked, plastered, sealed and guarded by two large statues of Tutankhamun, was the doorway to the burial chamber. Once again, the sealed doorway had been breached by a robber’s hole.


Carter and Carnarvon knew that the anteroom must be emptied before the wall could be dismantled, but that would take many weeks of hard work. Desperate to know if the tomb was intact they returned that night and crawled through the robber’s hole.


To their delight they found that the burial chamber was almost completely filled by a golden shrine, its seals still intact. Swearing each other to secrecy they crawled back and sealed the hole.


The burial chamber would be officially opened on 17 February 1923 in the presence of an invited audience of Egyptologists and government officials.


Tutankhamun’s innermost coffin

Tutankhamun’s coffin (a box-like stone container) held not one but three coffins in which to hold the body of the king. The outer two coffins were crafted in wood and covered in gold along with many semiprecious stones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise.


The inner coffin, however, was made of solid gold. When Howard Carter first came upon this coffin, it was not the shiny golden image we see in the Egyptian museum today.


In his excavation notes, Carter states, it was “covered with a thick black pitch-like layer which extended from the hands down to the ankles.


This was obviously an smoothing liquid which had been poured over the coffin during the burial ceremony and in great quantity.”


The image of the pharaoh is that of a god. The gods were thought to have skin of gold, bones of silver, and hair of lapis lazuli—so the king is shown here in his divine form in the afterlife. He holds the crook and flail, symbols of the king’s right to rule.


The death mask of Tutankhamun

The death mask is considered one of the masterpieces of Egyptian art. It originally rested directly on the shoulders of the mummy inside the innermost gold coffin. It is constructed of two sheets of gold that were hammered together and weighs 22.5 pounds (10.23 kg).


Tutankhamen is depicted wearing the striped names headdress (the striped head-cloth typically worn by pharaohs in ancient Egypt) with the goddesses Nekhbet and Wadjet depicted again protecting his brow. He also wears a false beard that further connects him to the image of a god as with the inner coffin.


He wears a broad collar, which ends in terminals shaped as falcon heads. The back of the mask is covered with Spell 151b from the Book of the Dead, which the Egyptians used as a road map for the afterlife.  This particular spell protects the various limbs of Tutankhamun as he moves into the underworld.


Victims of King Tutankhamen's Curse

1. George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon

The man who financed the excavation of King Tut's tomb was the first to succumb to the supposed curse. Legend has it that when Lord Carnarvon died, all of the lights in his house mysteriously went out.


In late February 1923 the excavation was closed to allow the exhausted excavators a brief holiday. While Carter stayed in Luxor, Carnarvon and his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, sailed south to spend a few days at Aswan.


During this trip Carnarvon was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito. Then, soon after his return to Luxor, he accidentally sliced the scab off the bite while shaving. He soon started to feel unwell. With his condition worsening he travelled to Cairo for expert medical attention.


But it was too late. Blood poisoning set in and pneumonia followed. A younger, fitter man may have been able to throw off the infection, but the 57-year-old Carnarvon was still suffering the effects of a severe motor accident in 1901 that had left him weak and vulnerable to chest infections. He died on 5 April 1923.


2. Sir Bruce Ingham

Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb, gave a paperweight to his friend Ingham as a gift. The paperweight appropriately (or perhaps quite inappropriately) consisted of a mummified hand wearing a bracelet that was supposedly inscribed with the phrase, "cursed be he who moves my body." Ingham's house burned to the ground not long after receiving the gift, and when he tried to rebuild, it was hit with a flood.


3. George jay Gould

Gould was a wealthy American financier and railroad executive who visited the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1923 and fell sick almost immediately afterward. He never really recovered and died of pneumonia a few months later.


4. Aubrey Herbert

It's said that Lord Carnarvon's half-brother suffered from King Tut's curse merely by being related to him. Aubrey Herbert was born with a degenerative eye condition and became totally blind late in life.


A doctor suggested that his rotten, infected teeth were somehow interfering with his vision, and Herbert had every single tooth pulled from his head in an effort to regain his sight. It didn't work. He did, however, die of sepsis as a result of the surgery, just five months after the death of his supposedly cursed brother.


5. Hugh Evelyn-White

Evelyn-White, a British archaeologist, visited Tut's tomb and may have helped excavate the site. After seeing death sweep over about two dozen of his fellow excavators by 1924, Evelyn-White hung himself—but not before writing, allegedly in his own blood, "I have succumbed to a curse which forces me to disappear."


6. Aaron Ember

American Egyptologist Aaron Ember was friends with many of the people who were present when the tomb was opened, including Lord Carnarvon. Ember died in 1926, when his house in Baltimore burned down less than an hour after he and his wife hosted a dinner party.


He could have exited safely, but his wife encouraged him to save a manuscript he had been working on while she fetched their son. Sadly, they and the family's maid died in the catastrophe.


7. Richard Bethell

Bethell was Lord Carnarvon's secretary and the first person behind Carter to enter the tomb. He died in 1929 under suspicious circumstances: He was found smothered in his room at an elite London gentlemen's club.


Soon after, the Nottingham Post mused, "The suggestion that the Hon. Richard Bethell had come under the ‘curse’ was raised last year, when there was a series of mysterious fires at it home, where some of the priceless finds from Tutankhamen’s tomb were stored." No evidence of a connection between artifacts and Bethell's death was established, though.


8. Sir Archibald Douglas Reid

Proving that you didn't have to be one of the excavators or expedition backers to fall victim to the curse, Reid, a radiologist, merely x-rayed Tut before the mummy was given to museum authorities. He got sick the next day and was dead three days later.


9. James Henry Breasted

Breasted, another famous Egyptologist of the day was working with Carter when the tomb was opened. Shortly thereafter, he allegedly returned home to find that his pet canary had been eaten by a cobra—and the cobra was still occupying the cage.


Since the cobra is a symbol of the Egyptian monarchy, and a motif that kings wore on their headdresses to represent protection, this was a rather ominous sign. Breasted himself didn't die until 1935, although his death did occur immediately after a trip to Egypt.


10. Howard carter

Carter never had a mysterious, inexplicable illness and his house never fell victim to any fiery disasters. He died of lymphoma at the age of 64. His tombstone even says, "May your spirit live, may you spend millions of years, you who love Thebes, sitting with your face to the north wind, your eyes beholding happiness." Perhaps the pharaohs saw fit to spare him from their curse.

11. Mohammad Ibrahim

Some 43 years later, the curse struck down one Mohammad Ibrahim, who officially agreed to Tutankhamun’s treasures being sent to Paris for an exhibition. His daughter was seriously hurt in a car accident and Ibrahim dreamed he would meet the same fate and tried to stop the export of the treasure. He failed and was hit by a car. He died two days later.


Alleged victims of the curse included Prince Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey of Egypt, shot dead by his wife in 1923; Sir Archibald Douglas Reid, who supposedly X-rayed the mummy and died mysteriously in 1924; Sir Lee Stack, the governor-general of the Sudan, who was assassinated in Cairo in 1924; Arthur Mace of Carter’s excavation team, said to have died of arsenic poisoning in 1928; Carter’s secretary Richard Bethell, who supposedly died smothered in his bed in 1929; and his father, who committed suicide in 1930.

Did these bizarre deaths really happen due to the Pharaoh’s curse? Or, all this happened by coincidence? What’s your thought?

The End

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