Breaking Down The 'Curse' Of King Tut's Tomb

Breaking Down The 'Curse' Of King Tut's Tomb

British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. The king's corpse snoozed in a sarcophagus of solid gold, uninterrupted for over 3,000 years, its location being a mystery. As attention around the discovery grew in the media …

… so did the rumor of a "mummy's curse," implying that King Tut cast misery on those who bothered his tomb.

Now curses are about as real as leprechauns, lucky numbers, or the possibility of George R.R. Martin finishing a book series. That being said, the deaths of people involved with turning over Tut's tomb sure were.

Among those who supposedly received the brunt of the curse was George Herbet, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who funded the discovery. Only months after uncovering the tomb, he died of blood poisoning from an infected mosquito. Allegedly, Herbert's dog died at the exact same time, and a bunch of lights in Cario went out. While next to meet his doom would be Sir Bruce Ingham, who was gifted a paperweight of a mummified hand by his good friend Carter, that read "cursed be he who moves my body." Not long after, Ingham's home turned into a towering inferno. Twice.

Another obscure death story is Hugh Evelyn-White's, a British archeologist who is thought to have helped uncover the site where the pharaoh lay (literally chilling in his own company until some d-bags had to infiltrate his privacy.) Evelyn-White actually took his own life, writing a bizarre message using his blood as ink: "I have succumbed to a curse which forces me to disappear." He was followed by Aaron Ember, an American Egyptologist who was close with most of those who excavated the tomb site. In 1926, Ember, his family, and their maid passed away in a house fire soon after having guests over.  

So if you're keeping tally, we have: Death from an insect that still kills a million people each year, shitty 1920s home fire code standards, and a suicide. In all, only eight of the 58 people involved with King Tut's tomb actually died within 12 years of its opening. So how does a "curse" take hold of pop culture?

Well, for one, newspapers seeing green in selling brown boogiemen:

Gettysburg Times

And Sherlock Holmes creator/paranormal pusher, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But what about the man who found the tomb, Howard Carter?

He died almost 20 years later from Hodgkin's lymphoma. As for "curses," Carter called the whole idea "tommy-rot," further stating:

"The sentiment of the Egyptologist is not one of fear, but of respect and awe. It is entirely opposed to the foolish superstitions which are far too prevalent among emotional people in search of 'psychic' excitement."

We'd like to further add: If mummy curses were real, don't you think they would have gone after the countless weirdo Europeans that decided to freaking eat them?

For more of Oona’s sarcasm and attempted wit, visit her website,

Top Image: Mark Fischer/Wiki Commons


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