London, Dec. 19 (Reuters): King Tutankhamen’s infamous “curse of the mummy’s tomb”, supposed to have killed off many of those involved in the opening of the pharoah’s tomb 80 years ago was a myth, Australian researchers say.
The British Medical Journal published a study by Mark Nelson of Monash University in Melbourne which found that, contrary to the legend that sprung up around Tutankhamen’s mummy, most of those present at its opening of his tomb in 1922 lived to a ripe old age. “(The myth) was almost certainly generated by rival newspapers that were shut out of the find of the century when exclusive rights were given to The Times of London,” Nelson told Reuters.
According to archaeologist Howard Carter — who led the team that discovered the burial chamber — 25 Westerners were present when the tomb was opened. They found the pharoah’s mummy, complete with splendid gold burial mask and a treasure trove of golden artefacts. The find made headlines around the world and sparked a craze for all things Egyptian. But when Carter’s sponsor Lord Carnarvon died just weeks after the opening of the chamber, the legend of the curse was born.
Newspapers at the time reported that the tomb was engraved with a curse promising that “death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the king” although there is no record of such an inscription being found.
The curse was blamed for a series of deaths — many with only the most tenuous links to the tomb — including that of Carter’s pet canary which was reportedly swallowed by a cobra on the day of the opening.