Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tut's Curse: "Makes for a Great Story"

"King Tut’s Many Curses"
Discovery News (February 22, 2010)

"...'When Tut's tomb was discovered and opened in 1922, it was a major archaeological event. In order to keep the press at bay and yet allow them a sensational aspect with which to deal, the head of the excavation team, Howard Carter, put out a story that a curse had been placed upon anyone who violated the rest of the boy-king.' In fact, the tombs of all royalty—not just Tutankhamun's—were reputed to be cursed, as part of a folkloric effort to deter looters and grave robbers. Other royal tombs with exactly the same 'curse' had been opened without doom befalling their excavators, so there was no reason to think that it would be any different with King Tut. (Makes for a great story, though.)

"It is true that some people involved with the excavation (however peripherally) died shortly after the Tut's tomb was opened. The most famous victim of the curse was probably Lord Carnavon, who financed the work; he died the following year in Cairo. (Of course, his death is less mysterious when we learn that he suffered severe health problems before he even arrived in Egypt.)..."

The relatively short article points out that the timing of the 'mysterious' deaths doesn't bode well for the 'curse' hypothesis. People who should have been targeted lived an average of over 23 years after disturbing Tut's tomb.

Oh, well, ancient curses are a whole lot more exciting than actuarial tables for most of us: so my guess is that the Curse of Tut will live on as an urban legend for generations to come.

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