Tutankhamun and ‘The Curse’

Tutankhamun came to the throne in 1333BC at the age of 8 or 9.

Being so young, he would have had advisers to assist him and would have relied heavily on these.

Akhenaten, the previous Pharoah had been unpopular with the people. He no longer wanted them to worship ‘Amun’ and to assert his authority, he made the people worship the Sun God ‘Aten’.

When Tutankhamun came to the throne he re-established the old religion, and the worshipping of ‘Amun’. This was a popular decision with the people.

Tutankhamun was not to rule for long and it is estimated that he ruled 1333BC – 1324BC. He was to die at approximately 17 years old, possibly murdered or died following an infected wound.

Much of what we know about Tutankhamun today is following the discovery of his tomb.

The tomb was discovered by English Egyptologist Howard Carter on 4 November 1922. It was almost completely intact and is the most complete royal tomb ever found.

The Pharoah’s body was found with his royal mask on. This was made of gold and inlaid with precious stones including lapiz lazuli, obsidian, carnelian, quartz and turquoise.

There were over 5000 individual treasures found in the royal tomb and these include his bed, statues and statuettes, including ‘the statue of Anubis’, models, games and bottles containing scents, ointments and wine. Many of the items found were made of pure gold.

The tomb itself had painted walls showing the journey into the afterlife.

Also found in the tomb were the mummified bodies of 2 babies, believed to have been the stillborn children of Tutankhamun.

‘Curse of the Pharoah’s’

On the day the tomb was broken into, an incident happened at Howard Carter’s house. His pet canary was found dead in its cage in the mouth of a cobra snake. At the time, this was interpreted as the royal cobra breaking into Carter’s house. This cobra was the same as the one worn on the Pharoah’s head.

Following this incident, people associated with the tomb started to die and these deaths have been attributed to the curse.

The most famous death was Lord Carnarvon who had financed the search for the tomb and was present when the tomb was opened.

He died on 5 April 1923 from an infected mosquito bite. This was only 4 months after the tomb had been opened.

At the time, Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, claimed Carnarvon’s death was the ‘curse of the mummy’. This just fuelled the press and the media went wild for ‘the curse’.

Many death’s have now been attributed to ‘the curse’ including;

Arthur Cruttenden Mace, a member of Carter’s excavation team, who died of Arsenic Poisoning and Sir Archibald Douglas-Reid who was the Radiologist who x-rayed the mummy.

One death that seems to dispute ‘the curse’ is that of Howard Carter himself. He died of natural causes in London on 2 March 1939.

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