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Were the tombs of the pharaohs in Egypt really cursed: the veil of a mystical mystery is lifted

Maria ShevchukNews
According to scientists, the tombs of the pharaohs did not need additional protection in the form of curses. Source: iStock

Tutankhamun's tomb is not only one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century. It is also another source of myths and pseudo-archaeological theories, including the so-called "Curse of the Pharaoh".

In particular, it was brought up after the mysterious death of Lord Carnarvon, the sponsor of the expedition to find Tutankhamun. The lord died just a few months after entering the tomb, IFLScience writes.

But the head of the expedition, Howard Carter, for example, lived for another 17 years after visiting the final resting place of the Egyptian ruler.

As for Carnarvon, he suffered from persistent lung infections for many years after being injured in a car accident in 1903. The researcher died of blood poisoning from a mosquito-borne infection in May 1923.

However, Carnarvon may well have brought the curse upon himself through his business dealings. To finance the famous expedition, he sold the rights to information about the tomb to the London Times, effectively giving the newspaper a monopoly on all facts related to Tutankhamun and his discovery.

The whole world was fascinated by the story that hit the Times. Other publications desperately tried to get at least something to publish and began to invent legends. After Carnarvon's death, journalists started writing speculative stories.

David Silverman, curator of the world-famous Tutankhamun exhibition at the Pension Museum, wrote in 1987 that many reporters at the time deliberately misinterpreted the inscriptions on the tomb to imply the existence of a curse. One source, for example, claimed that the passage read: "I will kill anyone who crosses this threshold of the sacred environs of the royal king who lives forever," although no one has ever actually seen such a message.

Another mistakenly translated a fragment of the Egyptian Book of the Dead carved on the tomb: "Those who enter this sacred tomb will be quickly visited by the wings of death."

However, although there is no curse near Tutankhamun's body, something similar was sometimes written on other ancient Egyptian tombs. One famous example warns that "those who break this tomb will die of a disease that no doctor can diagnose," although it is unclear on whose tomb this threat was written.

In general, curses were engraved only on the tombs of individuals. The Egyptian kings were already protected by a series of spells known as the Pyramid Texts, and therefore did not need additional protection in the form of a curse.

Despite the absence of actual curses in the tombs of the pharaohs, overzealous observers have repeatedly searched for reasons to believe that disturbing an ancient king could have deadly consequences. One article even suggests that the Egyptians hid nuclear waste in "vaults" under some tombs, leading to fatal health complications for archaeologists due to radiation.

Despite the ridiculous assumptions, some legitimate research has shown that ancient tombs may contain potentially harmful fungi, mold, or other microbes that could endanger researchers who inhale them. However, there is currently no indication that any Egyptologist has ever been affected by such a pathogen, so this is an additional nail in the coffin of the pharaoh's curse.

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