When Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922, rumors of an ancient curse followed the excavation team.

The Child Pharaoh

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The young pharaoh Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, ascended the throne at the tender age of nine and died near the age of 18. He ruled Egypt for only a decade or so, from 1332 to 1322 B.C. His death signaled the beginning of the end of Egypt's 18th dynasty.

Last Of The Kings

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When Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered intact after 3,000 years in 1922, archaeologists were shocked. Previously, it was widely believed that every royal burial chamber in the Valley of the King's had already been located. Many tombs in the area had also been looted by thieves.

The Excavation

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The expedition that found King Tut's tomb was lead by archaeologist Howard Carter, who became convinced in 1891 that at least one undiscovered tomb in the Valley remained. George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, a British aristocrat and amateur Egyptologist, helped finance the search.

Curse Of The Pharaohs

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What the expedition found was an untouched hoard of treasures inside the tomb, valued at several billion dollars. The extremely unusual find made global headlines. Rumors began to spread of a “Curse of the Pharaohs” that brought ill luck on anyone who disturbed an Egyptian royal's burial place. Some sources believe that Carter purposefully encouraged the idea of a curse to keep the press away from the excavation site.

Within The Tomb


The sudden death of Lord Carnarvon added fuel to rumors that something supernatural had been released from inside the tomb. Carnarvon was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito, which he then nicked while shaving. The bite became infected and Carnarvon died of blood poisoning in a Cairo hotel at the age of 56.

Darkness In Cairo And England

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A power outage supposedly plunged Cairo into darkness at the moment of Carnarvon's death. His dog Susie died on the same evening back at his home of Highclere Castle in England after letting out a long, low howl.

Victims Of The Curse

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Other victims of the “curse” include a radiologist, who supposedly x-rayed the mummy and died of a mysterious illness. Wealthy American George Jay Gould I (pictured here) died of pneumonia after visiting the tomb, and a member of Carter's excavation team was rumored to have died from arsenic poisoning.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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"Sherlock Holmes" author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a firm believer in the supernatural and used his large audience to promote the theory that a curse was somehow involved in King Tut's tomb. When asked about Carnarvon's death by a newspaper, Conan Doyle replied that he believed the death could have been caused by "elementals" or "curses" created by ancient priests to guard the tomb.

A Strangely Selective Curse

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Although Carnarvon died shortly after the tomb was opened, Carter lived an additional 16 years. Out of the 58 people present at the opening of Tut's sarcophagus, only eight individuals died within the next 12 years.

Beware The Mummy

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Newer theories suggest that because ancient mummies can carry some dangerous types of mold, handling them might be a health risk for people with already compromised immune systems. Since bat guano can carry dangerous bacteria and Tut's tomb was infested with bats, it has also been suggested that Carnarvon may have picked up the infection that killed him from bats on the site.