Howard Carter’s discovery of the Boy King’s Tomb – KV62 – in the Valley of the Kings stunned the world in 1922. But a few months after King Tut’s sarcophagus was opened, six archaeologists died, along with Lord Carnarvon – the sponsor of the expedition. The mystery became known as the “curse of the pharaohs” after reports at the time claimed the tomb was engraved with a curse promising that “death will come on swift wings to whoever disturbs the king’s peace. “.
Today, scientists believe the so-called curse is actually caused by decomposed organic material that can enter open wounds and spread infection.
But researchers have found that the idea of ââa mummy associated with a curse actually predates the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Egyptologist Jasmine Day told LiveScience: âThe curse is a legend that has grown steadily since the mid-19th century, and gradually developed with the cumulative contributions of fictional literature, movies, horror, the media and, more recently, the Internet.
âMy research uncovered forgotten American fictional stories from the 1860s, in which male adventurers strip female mummies and steal their jewelry, only to suffer horrific death or dire consequences for those around them.
âThese stories, written by women, focus on unboxing mummies as a metaphor for rape.
âIn turn, this shocking comparison seems to doom the destruction and theft of Egyptian heritage at the height of Western colonialism.
Other scholars have agreed that the association of curses and magic with mummies was widespread before the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Ronald Fritze, professor of history, added: âOver time the ancient Egyptians were credited with all kinds of supernatural and magical knowledge.
âWhen Egypt began to open up to the West after Napoleon’s expedition, there was a fascination with mummies, and wealthy people bought them to have them unwrapped for entertainment.
READ MORE: Curse of the Pharaohs in Egypt: Expert Recalls ‘Incidents’ During Tutankhamun Investigation
“A lot of people have been troubled by this kind of interference with the dead.”
Dr Day explained how, when the Titanic sank in 1912, some people believed that the mummy of a priestess at the British Museum had caused the wreck.
She said British Museum curator Ernest Wallis Budge “received so many inquiries from the public regarding the allegedly cursed mummy at the museum that he was forced to write a leaflet debunking the rumors that could be distributed to members of the public”.
âDespite this, some people sent money to the museum to buy flowers to lay at the feet of the deceased priestess to soothe her soul – and the story of the mummy who sank the Titanic continues to circulate on the internet today. hui. “
While questions about whether Tutankhamun’s curse was real or not still drew public attention, the former Minister of Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass, revealed that he was also “subject to certain incidents” in 2005.
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He told Daily News Egypt in February: “This included while I was involved in carrying out the scanner on Tutankhamun’s mummy and the device shut down.”
However, Dr Hawass is adamant that he was “unrelated” to the so-called curse and has long rejected such claims.
He added: âIf you lock a mummy in a room for 3,000 years and then open it, you have to keep in mind that invisible germs are likely to grow in this environment, which could affect the archaeologist. modern and lead to their death.
âSo what I do now is after discovering a new grave, I leave it open for several hours after the discovery to replace the stale air with fresh air. “
Archaeologists now wear protective masks when entering such resting places, but there have always been bizarre experiences.
Some have detailed vivid dreams, claiming to be “haunted” by the mummies they apparently disturbed.