The curse of the pharaohs

Published: 11th October 2012 12:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th October 2012 12:53 PM   |  A+A-

The magnificent and imposing pyramids of Egypt were built to house the mummies of the rulers of Egypt along with the precious jewels and artefacts that they were supposed to carry with them to the other world after death. For hundreds of years, tales about the treasures hidden in the pyramids attracted grave robbers who tried their utmost to locate the whereabouts of these treasures.  Many robbers were successful and a lot of treasures were lost for good. Later, archaeologists began to show interest in the secrets of the pyramids and many important discoveries were made.

But there always lurked a fear in every grave robber’s and archaeologist’s mind about the curse of the pharaohs, which referred to the belief that any person who disturbed the peace of the mummies would be placed under a curse and a terrible fate would befall him. Legend had it that the curse did not differentiate between thieves or archaeologists and could cause illness, death or bad luck. Since the mid-twentieth century many authors and documentaries have tried to prove that the curses were real, not in the supernatural sense as was believed earlier but with a scientifically explicable reason such as bacteria or radiation.

Although most modern day archaeologists view the tales of the curses as rubbish, there are many stories related to the curse that sound convincing.

Consider the story of the famous Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass who recalled that as a young man, he was involved in excavating at Kom Abu-Bellou and had to transport artifacts from the Greco-Roman site. On the day he did so, his cousin died, then on the anniversary of that day his uncle died and on the third anniversary his aunt died. Many years later when he was excavating the tombs of the builders of the pyramids at Giza, he encountered the 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 Hawass was not superstitious, he became convinced that he should not disturb the mummies. However, he later became involved in the removal of two child mummies from Bahariya Oasis to a museum and he recalled that he was haunted by the children in his dreams.

These phenomena did not stop until the mummy of the father was re-united with those of the children in the museum. Hawass also recalled an incident relating to a sick boy who loved Ancient Egypt and was subject to a ‘miracle’ cure in the Egyptian Museum when he looked into the eyes of the mummy of King Ahmose I.

The belief in the curse was reinforced when several members of archaeologist Howard Carter’s team who were opening of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 died mysterious early deaths.


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