The Curse of Tutankhamun

The mist fails to lift on Pharaoh Tutankhamun, the boy king who ruled Egypt for a short nine years from 1336 - 1327 BC. Tutankhamun was all of 18 years old when he died mysteriously. Pharaoh Tutankhamun succeeded his heretic father Akhenaten to the throne. Akhenaten had attempted to create a new forced religion, with the surname Aten, whereas the usual surname is 'Amun'. His son Tutankhaten promptly changed his own surname to Tutankhamun, and his child-wife's name was changed to Ankhsunamun.

No one knows how Pharaoh Tutankhamun died. It has been speculated for long that King Tutankhamun was assassinated and records of his existence wiped out. His early death and absence of records fuelled this school of thought.

One of the most important archeological finds of all time, King Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1923 by Howard Carter, a British Egyptologist, who was convinced that King Tutankhamun's grave lay undiscovered somewhere in the Valley of Kings in Luxor, Egypt. He was financed in his expedition by Lord Carnarvon, himself and ailing gentleman keen on Egyptology. After five years of unsuccessful digging, Carnarvon almost gave up on his hopes, and returned to London. At the same time, Howard Carter's digging team stumbled on to a step cut into a rock beneath the debris of an ancient structure. On excavation, it was found that the states led down to the long-hidden tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The news was immediately communicated to Carnarvon, who quickly returned to Cairo.

According to legend which has been strongly contested, the tomb raiders broke the long sleep of the Pharaoh, setting a deadly curse in motion. The day he hit upon the tomb, Howard carter returned home to fund that his canary was swallowed by a cobra. His servant wailed at the Pharaoh's Curse, since the canary was supposed to have led the explorer to the tomb, and a cobra and a vulture were supposed to be Tutankhamun's protectors. (Tutankhamun's headgear sports statuettes of both). The cobra was supposed to be the protector of the tomb.

The tomb was intact and contained an amazing collection of treasures including a stone sarcophagus. The sarcophagus contained three gold coffins nested within each other. Inside the final one was the mummy of the boy-king, Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

It was reported that Carter's native diggers saw hieroglyphics inside the tomb, above Tutankhaun's body, which warned of death to the intruders. Apparently, Howard Carter had a tough time keeping the scared grave diggers together. But these reports are believed to have been significantly embellished by the newspapers of the day who cooked up stories to sell the paper.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that Lord Carnarvon died soon thereafter. He died of an infected mosquito bite, which later became pneumonia and claimed his life. When he died, the lights went out in Cairo. This is agreed to even by hose who contest the Curse of Tutankhamun. At the moment of his death, his pet dog howled pitifully and turned over and died, in faraway London. This is also reported, but there is no actual confirmation or denial of this event.

Death of Carnarvon was only the start. A string of deaths followed. Many of those associated with the grave-digging succumbed to unnatural causes, giving currency to the Curse Theory. The newspapers of the day speculated that such eerie events were caused by the curse, an evil which Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter had unleashed. Two days after Carnarvon's death, the mummy of Pharaoh Tutankhamun was examined and a blemish was found on his left cheek exactly in the position of the mosquito bite on Carnarvon's face.

Soon after, archaeologist Arthur Mace who was part of the expedition, went into a coma and died soon afterwards, baffling everyone. The deaths continued. Carnarvon's friend, George Gould, trekked to Egypt when he learned of Carnarvon's fate. Before leaving, he looked in at the tomb. The next day, he collapsed with a high fever; twelve hours later he was dead. Radiologist Archibald Reid, a man who used X-ray techniques to determine the age and possible cause of death of Tutankhamun, was sent back to England after complaining of exhaustion. He died soon after landing.

Carnarvon's secretary Richard Bethell died of heart failure four months after the tomb was opened. The chain of deaths continued. Joel Wool, a leading British industrialist visited the tomb and was dead a few months later from a fever which doctors could not comprehend.


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