A to Z – King Tut’s Curse

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

K is for King Tut’s Curse





Tutanchamon_(js)_1When you think of a king, you usually picture an older, wiser man, sporting a beard and a long robe. Well, King Tut was king for only ten years and died at the young age of nineteen. He was hardly the image we picture in our heads. He died around 1324 B.C. but his remains weren’t discovered until over three thousand years later. His tomb was discovered and opened by Howard Carter November 29, 1922. The carvings on the walls predicted a swift death to anyone who bothers his tomb. (photo by Jerzy Strzelecki, wikimedia.)

“Death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the king.”

Let’s see if the prophecies came true.


The first death occurred four months after opening the tomb. George Herbert was the financier of the excavation. He was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito and accidentally cut the bump while shaving. He developed blood poisoning and died April 1923. Coincidentally, the first autopsy of King Tut revealed a healed lesion on his left cheek. Legend has it that Herbert’s son reported Herbert’s dog back in England howled and dropped dead at the same time as his master.

George Gould visited the tomb, developed a fever, and died May 1923.

Prince Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey visited the tomb. He was shot dead by his wife July 1923.

Colonel Aubrey Herbert, George Herbert’s half brother, died September 1923 from blood poisoning.

Sir Archibald Douglas-Reid, the radiologist who x-rayed King Tut, died January 1924.

Sir Lee Stack, died November 1924 of assassination in Cairo.

A. C. Mace, a member of the excavation team, died in 1928 of arsenic poisoning.

Mervyn Herbert, George Herbert’s half brother and Aubrey Herbert’s full brother, died May 1929 of malaria.

Captain Bethell, Carter’s secretary, died November 1929 of poisoning.

Richard Bethell, father of the above, died February 1930 of suicide.

Fifty-eight people were present at the opening of the tomb. Eight died strange deaths in the twelve years following. By 1935, the press had attributed twenty one deaths to the curse. Dozens of people connected with the opening of the tomb, from security guards to archeologists, had strange incidents occur soon after the opening of the tomb.

James Breasted worked with Howard Carter after the tomb was opened. Breasted found his canary dead in its cage in the mouth of a cobra, a symbol of the Egyptian monarchy.

In 1925, Carter gave his friend Bruce Ingram a paperweight of a mummified hand wearing a scarab bracelet that said, “Cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water, and pestilence.” Soon after receiving the gift, Ingram’s house burned down. After it was rebuilt, it flooded.

Tutanhkamun_jackalIn May 1926, Carter reported in his diary that he witnessed jackals around the site, the same type as Anubis who is the guardian of the king. He said he had never seen a jackal in his thirty-five years of working in the desert. (photo by Jon Bodsworth, wikimedia)

Skeptics point out that many of the original founders lived long and healthy lives, but when was the last time you heard of someone dying of poisoning? I don’t believe in curses any more than I believe in ghosts, but I find it all very strange.

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