In the chronicles of mythical maledictions, a solitary curse eclipses all others, draped in an otherworldly enigma – the notorious “Curse of the Pharaoh,” otherwise acknowledged as the Curse of King Tut.
From the instant King Tutankhamun’s crypt was exposed within the isolated Valley of the Kings of Egypt, ominous murmurs commenced to reverberate.
These whispers conveyed an unspeakable curse, a chilling menace awaiting those audacious enough to disrupt the sanctified stillness of the young Pharaoh’s eternal dwelling.
The day was November 4, 1922, when a tireless troupe of scholars, led by the stern gaze of British archaeologist Howard Carter, unexpectedly encountered a single stair.
This lone step signaled the gateway to the hitherto forgotten sepulcher of King Tutankhamun. Consequently, the tomb of the king was ushered into daylight on November 26, 1922.
After more than three millennia of unbroken silence, it was proposed that the once-venerated pharaoh had unleashed a curse, a fearsome hex bringing doom and destruction to those impertinent enough to disturb his perpetual slumber.
Much akin to a spectral saga relayed in hushed, nervous murmurs or an unprecedented media storm, the speculation encompassing the so-called “curse of the pharaohs” burgeoned to towering extents over the decades.
The curse may not have manifested as a wrathful, death-dealing mummy, yet the narratives suggesting a sequence of unexplainable deaths amongst those engaged in the tomb’s revelation are indeed blood-curdling.
Numerous assertions posit that those connected with the tomb’s unveiling swiftly succumbed to the malevolent curse, their existences extinguished under mystifying conditions.
This spine-chilling lore gained traction as, irrefutably, a number of individuals linked to the crypt’s revelation met their premature demise shortly after the tomb was laid bare.
Did Herbert, the Financier, Die As a Consequence of the Curse of King Tut?
The demise that resonates most profoundly in relation to the curse is arguably that of George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon.
This British aristocrat and enthusiast of Egyptology was the financial powerhouse behind the excavation. His fatal exit on March 25, 1923, approximately a year after the tomb’s exposure, is widely viewed as perplexing.
Nonetheless, his health was in noticeable decline prior to his expedition to Cairo, and his death, in truth, stemmed from a common mosquito-borne affliction.
The doctrine of the curse found a fervent supporter in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the renowned creator of Sherlock Holmes, who also authored a book endorsing the existence of fairies.
Countless individuals were associated, directly or indirectly, with the unsealing of Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s crypt, from guardians to archaeologists. Among such a multitude, some unexpected deaths would naturally transpire, attributable to sheer chance.
As the skeptic James Randi inscribed in his tome “An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural,” “the average lifespan for … those who ought to have suffered the ancient curse extended over twenty-three years after the ‘curse’ was assumed to activate.
Carnarvon’s progeny passed away in 1980, a full fifty-seven years later. Howard Carter, who not only uncovered the tomb and personally opened it, but also extricated the mummy of Tutankhamun from the sarcophagus, endured until 1939, sixteen years subsequent to that occurrence.”
Carter not only made it to the honorable age of 64, ultimately succumbing to cancer, but also Sgt. Richard Adamson, a member of Carter’s ensemble and the sentry who vigilantly guarded the burial chamber non-stop for seven years, remaining the closest European to the remains of Tutankhamun, survived another 60 years until his departure in 1982.
His lifespan was not an anomaly; as Randi underscored, “This collective expired at an average age of seventy-three plus years, outliving the life expectancy charts for individuals of that era and social standing by roughly a year. The Curse of the Pharaoh seems to be a beneficial curse, it appears.”
Why the Curse of King Tut?
From what unhallowed source did this ominous malediction arise? As explained by Randi, “When Tut’s tomb was exposed and its seal shattered in 1922, the event sent shockwaves through the world of archaeology.
To curb the insatiable press, whilst still offering them a taste of the sensational, the overseer of the excavation, Howard Carter, spun a yarn about a curse, destined to befall anyone who disturbed the everlasting slumber of the boy-king.”
Though Carter wasn’t the architect of the idea of an accursed tomb, he did skillfully manipulate this notion to ward off intruders from his groundbreaking find.
In reality, all royal tombs — not solely Tutankhamun’s — were reputedly charged with an identical “curse”, yet none had caused any sinister outcomes upon their unveiling.
Carter was far from the only one to utilize the fear of supernatural punishment as a deterrent for would-be tomb thieves. In fact, a celebrated writer had proposed a similar curse:
“Good frend, for Iesus sake forebeare To digge the dust encloased heare. Bleste be ye man [that] spares these stones, And curste be he [that] moves my bones.”
“Blessed be the man that spares these stones, and cursed be he that moves my bones.”
This elegy, inscribed in 1616, belonged to none other than William Shakespeare. Beyond using dramatic flair for its own sake, the world-renowned bard crafted these words as a safeguard against a gruesome prospect his fame and wealth couldn’t deter: potential desecration of his grave by tomb robbers.
These “anatomists” coveted the Bard’s remains not out of malice or spite, but for scientific inquiry — to barter his body to doctors for medical education in institutes.
Shakespeare was by no means the lone figure of his time apprehensive about post-mortem theft; indeed, grave robbing was a rampant practice during his era and even preceding it.
Regardless of whether Howard Carter, King Tut, or William Shakespeare harbored true belief in the power of curses, the key element was the conviction fostered in those audacious enough to potentially violate their eternal repose.
And their stratagem was successful: a century after the unsealing of Tut’s tomb, many souls persist in their belief in the curse.
9 Major Death Related to the Curse of King Tut:
George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon
The financier of the excavation of King Tut’s tomb, Lord Carnarvon, was the first casualty of the supposed curse.
He inadvertently cut a mosquito bite while shaving, triggering an abrupt onset of blood poisoning.
This unfortunate event occurred a mere few months after the tomb had been exposed and just six weeks post the surfacing of press articles narrating the “mummy’s curse,” said to afflict anyone who dared to disrupt the mummy’s everlasting slumber.
According to popular folklore, at the moment of Lord Carnarvon’s death, all lights in his house, and in some versions, the whole city of Cairo, mysteriously and instantly went out.
Sir Bruce Ingham
Howard Carter, the archaeologist who uncovered the tomb, once gifted a peculiar object to his friend Bruce Ingham — a paperweight, formed of a mummified hand with a bracelet.
This bracelet was rumored to carry an inscription: “cursed be he who moves my body.”
Ingham himself escaped the curse’s wrath, but his house suffered a devastating fate.
After receiving the gift, his dwelling was engulfed by a fire. Attempting to rebuild from the rubble, he faced an untimely flood.
George Jay Gould
A successful American business tycoon with extensive railroad interests, George Jay Gould, visited Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1923.
Shortly after, his health ominously deteriorated, from which he never truly recovered. Just a few months later, he lost his battle with pneumonia.
The curse of King Tut allegedly did not spare Lord Carnarvon’s half-brother.
Aubrey Herbert, born with a progressive eye disease leading to eventual blindness, underwent a drastic procedure to extract all his teeth in an ill-fated attempt to regain his sight, based on a peculiar medical hypothesis that linked his tooth infection to vision loss.
Regrettably, he contracted sepsis, a result of the severe dental procedure, and died only five months after his brother’s demise, supposedly to the same curse.
By 1924, British archaeologist Hugh Evelyn-White, who had visited King Tut’s tomb and possibly contributed to its excavation, had witnessed almost two dozen of his colleagues succumb to death.
Evelyn-White took his own life, leaving a disturbing note, allegedly written in his own blood, stating, “I have succumbed to a curse which forces me to disappear.”
Aaron Ember, an American Egyptologist and associate of several individuals present at the unveiling of King Tut’s tomb, tragically perished in a house fire in 1926, shortly after hosting a dinner party.
His wife had asked him to save a manuscript he had been working on, while she went to get their son.
Tragically, the fire claimed the lives of Ember, his wife, and their maid. The manuscript’s title was none other than The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
The year of 1929 marked the eerie finale of Richard Bethell’s earthly sojourn. The man, once an intimate aide to Lord Carnarvon and the direct successor to Carter in the crypt, breathed his last under a shroud of questionable events.
A historian of the era dared to link the shadowy demise to the infamous sorcerer, Aleister Crowley, treading on ominous grounds. Found lifeless, asphyxiated in his private suite within a venerated gentlemen’s club of London, the mystery of Bethell’s end took a darker turn.
In the wake of this event, whispers echoed in the Nottingham Evening Post, questioning if Bethell was the latest victim of the whispered ‘curse’, a suspicion fueled by a series of inexplicable fires at his residence, home to invaluable relics from Tutankhamun’s tomb. Nevertheless, the undeniable proof tethering Bethell’s abrupt end to the cryptic artifacts remained elusive.
Sir Archibald Douglas Reid
The chilling tale of Sir Archibald Douglas Reid served as a grim testament that the specter of Tutankhamun’s curse held no regard for one’s association with the expedition.
Reid, a simple radiologist, was granted the task of performing an X-ray on Tut before the mummy’s transfer to museum guardianship. Yet, his health took a frightful, sudden turn just a day following his task, and within a paltry three days, death had etched his name.
James Henry Breasted
James Henry Breasted, a revered Egyptologist and an accomplice to Carter during the unsealing of King Tut’s tomb, was welcomed home with an ominous spectacle. His cherished canary, lifeless, in the clutches of a cobra, the venomous reptile audaciously staking claim over the birdcage.
The cobra, a symbolic embodiment of Egyptian sovereignty, seemed to mock Breasted with a ghastly prophecy. Although he survived until 1935, his demise was inextricably linked to his immediate homecoming from an Egyptian voyage, adding an eerie echo to the unfolding narrative.
What Happened to Howard Carter?
The tale takes an unexpected turn with Howard Carter, whose life appeared immune to any malignant, inexplicable afflictions or unanticipated blazes. His life was snuffed out at the age of 64, with lymphoma casting the final blow.
His tombstone proffers a cryptic inscription, “May your spirit live, may you spend millions of years, you who love Thebes, sitting with your face to the north wind, your eyes beholding happiness.” Perhaps, Carter was, by some unfathomable decree, deemed worthy of mercy by the enigmatic pharaohs, sparing him from their eternal wrath.
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