Ancient Egypt: Curses and Tombs
Ancient Egypt has always fascinated me. The people’s way of life, their social classes, beliefs, customs, traditions, and superstitions have always impressed me with such mystery and awe. One of the silently awed at and feared mysteries related to Ancient Egypt is the “Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb” or “Curse of the Pharaohs”.
On November 1922, Howard Carter made a name for himself, unearthing the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamon (who was around 18 when he died). The young king’s resting place was said to have been laden with numerous golden treasures. Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon had proved this rumor to be true!
Of course the whole world celebrated and hands soon became itchy, and eyes started getting hungry. But the world was not meant to have its complete fill. Not long after the discovery, more than a dozen people who were involved in the opening of the tomb had suddenly died. There was also a noted event where some people decided to perform a play of Egyptian mythology on the death anniversary of the Ancient Egyptian king Akhnaton. Days before the planned event, a storm came and the actors suffered near-fatal sickness.
These events have been mentioned in The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Mysteries, and a book by Philip Vandenburg The Curse of the Pharaohs. The latter also mentioned that there had been noted premature deaths shrouded with mystery, and speculated whether the priests of Ancient Egypt knew ways to preserve poisons or mixtures that were quite fatal. Such deaths mentioned were that of: François Champollion, who decoded the Rosetta Stone, the Egyptologist Belzoni, Georg Möller, and the doctor Theodore Biharz, among many others.
Personally, I’m not surprised. Archaeological expeditions and diggings decades ago were not very safe and hygienic as compared to the more advanced technology of today. Although adventures and enigmas make our world more interesting, the cause for those people’s deaths was a disease. Though the Ancient Egyptians embalmed their dead, bacteria could still have been crawling around in the tombs. As to why not every on-looker had died when the tomb was opened or when it was hauled out, it could mean that the virus or bacteria could only spread upon close contact.
What is clear, though, is that incidents like these teach us that no matter how much we think we know, we never actually know enough so we have to be careful in the things we do. This also tells us that there are really some things beyond our understanding and control and so we must tread on this world with wary steps.