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curse of the pharaoh
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 3:59 am    Post subject: curse of the pharaoh Reply with quote

I was rather surprised to see this story dredged up again.
The whole curse story is rather amazing, considering that Howard Carter lived until a very ripe old age. And if anyone should have keeled over, it should surely have been him.

Anyone ever even heard of a piece of Tut's jewelry that was unaccounted for?


Quote:
Curse of King Tut haunts mourning woman

Cairo - A South African woman, owner of a piece of jewellery believed stolen from the tomb of King Tutankhamen, has asked the government in Cairo for help in breaking King Tut's curse after two members of her family suffered untimely deaths.
In a letter to the ministry of culture, the owner of an antique scarab attributed the tragedies that befell her and a previous owner of the artefact to the so-called curse, a ministry official told the Cairo daily Al Akhbar.
Several people linked to the 1922 discovery of King Tut's tomb have died mysteriously, giving rise to speculation about a Pharaoh's curse.
The scarab reportedly made its way to the shores of South Africa after a sailor passing through Egypt won it at a gambling table. Shortly after giving the item to his daughter, he was lost at sea. Then, just days after his body washed ashore, the young woman died of leukaemia.
The sailor's wife, believing the item had brought her bad luck, gave it to the woman who now has it. The current owner lost her own daughter to leukaemia soon after taking possession of the scarab.

Upon hearing about the mysterious deaths of several people involved in the discovery the tomb of King Tut, the woman found a buyer for the scarab.
But tragedy was to strike again. The day before the transaction her husband suddenly passed away.
Plunged into depression, she sought information about the traditions surrounding King Tut and came to believe that repatriating the scarab was the only way to break the alleged curse. She offered it to the culture ministry.
Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said his organisation would send a delegation to South Africa to bring the scarab back to Egypt.
King Tut, estimated to have died at the age of 18, ruled between 1319 and 1309 BC during the 18th Dynasty.


This was actually reported in a newspaper Rolling Eyes

click here for original article.
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Dampwater
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i dunno buddy, i have a true belief that this curse is true. I mean, its like taking a part of Tut's sould out of its place of birth and death. And even if Carter didn't die, or wasn't affected by the curse, but thats only one guy. I mean, i know i sound completely ridiculous, but i just have a feeling in my heart that its true.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Curses, schmurses...I know this sounds cynical but I think these stories are spun up or exaggerated by the media to scare people.

I'm not sure if the Egyptians actually wrote curses on their tombs. And Anneke raised an important point-Howard Carter lived to old age. And as far as I know, none of the Egyptian tomb guards at the valley of the kings seem to be affected by curses-but then again, curse believers would think that curses only attack foreigners, and Egyptians would be immune to curses?

Mind you, I did catch a small curse from an Egyptian sarcophagus! I was in the british museum and I decided to touch the hieroglyphics on a sarcophagus (yes I know, it ain't allowed, but I did it 'for a laugh') and the next day i was really ill! I had a fever, and a weird rash on my feet, which was strange. Revenge of the mummy anyone?
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There ARE tombs, I believe the one I remember most was in Saqqara, that have curses put there in ancient times.
But the "curse" attributed to Tut's tomb is completely different in wording--something like "death come on swift wings to those who enter". The legend of the tomb's curse was originally thought up by a newspaper man trying to get an interesting story for his paper. Obviously, he was successful! The legend of the curse grew out of all proportion, ultimately including the relative of a relative of a person who walked through the tomb, even though the one who died was in his 90's! There is no curse--there was no inscription or papyrus found in the tomb that contained any form of curse--in fact, there was no papyrus found in the tomb at all!
The idea of a temple or roomful of "secrets" under the Sphinx surfaces quite frequently too. As I've said before, during recontruction done on the Sphinx, Hawass and Lehner did extensive exploration, using sensor equipment, around the Sphnix. No subterranian room or chamber was found.
As to the pyramids being built with outside influences (Atlaneans) give me a break! Or I should say, give the Egyptians a break. I don't understand why it is so unbelievable that a--basically--primative society could manage, with their own thinking, to build such massive structures as the pyramids. Everyone always talks as if the Great Pyramid was unique. It is not, merely the apex of a building program that includes many pyramids. Seeing the various burials, it's quite easy to see the progress. From mastabas, to step-pyramid, to true pyramid. The Bent and the Red are equal to the GP in massive, awe-inspiring majesty, and they are never credited to the Alanteans. It is unbelievable to us that such building could be accomplished by mere humans without the help of a more advanced people. But it's true--they did. I wish that fact was more acceptable to people.
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sinzi
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well if there were eritten these so called curses on egyptian tombs couldn't they have been written to scare the robbers? Maybe they've created this myth to protect themselves.

In my country it is full of these so called myths about curses, witches, and i'm not sure wether I believe in them or not although i did have some scary unexplaineble experiences. But I do believe more in science and i think that sometimes people tend to believe the easiest explanation in this case curses. Most of the time there is a logical explanation.
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The whole curse of Tut's tomb is a bunch of bull-flop, as the learned Homer Simpson would say. Osiris II wrote: "But the 'curse' attributed to Tut's tomb is completely different in wording--something like 'death come on swift wings to those who enter'." I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but that particular lyrical phrase was never even uttered or written by ancient Egyptians. "Death comes on wings to he who enters the tomb of a pharaoh" was invented in 1923 by the British Gothic novelist Marie Corelli. She wrote it in a letter to The Times and tried to attribute it to some obscure Arabic text "she had in her possession," but it was nonsense. She made it up.

There were many people involved in the excavation of Tut's tomb. Take any 50 or 60 or 70 people, and certainly a percentage of them are going to die untimely deaths. That's just the truth for any group of people. But few people involved in the excavation met untimely ends. The media of the time focused on those who did die and blew it out of proportion for the sake of shock value--just the kind of sordid thing the parasitical media of today love to do.

That being said, tomb curses did exist in ancient Egypt. They were relatively rare, though they did enjoy popularity in the New Kingdom. In a society where magic was part and parcel with everyday life, the Egyptians very much believed in curses. The average tomb curse had language such as: "Let the crocodile be against him in the water, the snake against him on land" (from the 4th Dynasty tomb of Meni).

There is no curse inscribed anywhere in Tut's tomb. I deal with this every day at the museum, and it's suprising how popular the myth is and how fast people still hold to it. But I can guarantee the "curse of the tomb" will do nothing to the attendance of the Tut exhibit we're opening next year!
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to one of my original questions though. Have you heard of any items being stolen or being unaccounted for? It would not be too strange to find some jewelry stolen at some point. It would have a lot of appeal on the black market no doubt.

As I was writing this I was just wondering about the logistics of the excavation headed by Carter. The security must have been a total nightmare. It would be so tempting for anyone involved to pocket a small item.
Ever read about how they handled this?
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure things disappeared from Tut's tomb--not just in the years following his death but in the years of the excavation itself. Those things that did disappear are likely gone forever. The South African woman in the article you shared with us might have nothing more than a fake, or at most some anonymous scarab from some point in Egyptian history.

Until Hawass's people take a close look at it, we won't even know if the scarab is an actual artifact. The "sailor winning it in a card game" just seems incredibly dubious to me.

I've read that in the worst times of tension between Howard Carter and the Egyptian authorities, the Egyptians searched the house in which he was living during the excavation and found all sorts of things from the tomb. They confiscated everything. Now, an archaeologist taking things from a tomb was hardly unheard of in those days, but Carter alienated himself and won no friends. I would not be surprised if Carter himself managed to walk away with a few relics in all the time he was there.

I've never heard of an artifact popping up in modern times that can be definitively linked to the burial of Tutankhamun. I personally doubt this South African's scarab is in any way related to it, but we shall see. Very Happy
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:

I've read that in the worst times of tension between Howard Carter and the Egyptian authorities, the Egyptians searched the house in which he was living during the excavation and found all sorts of things from the tomb. They confiscated everything. Now, an archaeologist taking things from a tomb was hardly unheard of in those days, but Carter alienated himself and won no friends. I would not be surprised if Carter himself managed to walk away with a few relics in all the time he was there.


I had not heard that story, but I can't say I'm surprised.
I wonder if any items surfaced among his belongings after he passed away. You're probably right in that he managed to spirit away some items.

I'll have to look that up again, but didn't some of the items end up in Lord Carnavron's collection as well even though he died during the excavation.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember a show I saw on TV some years ago--I can't even recall the name of the program, but it was talking about the discovery of Tut's tomb, and the participation in the excavation of Lord Carnarvon. (sp?) The English estate of Carnarvon was being remodeled a bit, and the family butler told the present Lord of a secret safe in the walls between two rooms. When the safe was opened, there was "several pieces of low-value jewelry" and other mementos from the tomb.
Also, during the excavation, Egyptian authorities became wary of Carter's activities at the dig, and an inspection was mounted. In a tomb that was used to stope equipment, several wine-boxes were found that were to be shipped to Carter's English home. Opening the boxes, the famous "lotus-flower" bust of Tutankhamen was found. Carter claimed that the bust was "accidentally" put in the boxes without his knowledge.
Who knows what items, and in what amount, were taken from the tomb? Anything missing would be reported to the world as missing due to the ancient robbery.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. Pretty brash of Carter to try to spirit something like that sculpture out of the country. Anyone would have known it was stolen from the tomb. LOL "Accidentally" ended up in a crate?

You're right about the spelling of Carnarvon's name btw.

There is an egyptian exhibit at Highclere castle, the home of the Carnarvons.
http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/egyptian_tut.htm

They are very very quiet about anything from Tut's tomb. They do mention some jewelry from a nobleman's tomb at Thebes.

It was somewhat common up to a certain time for the excavators to be allowed to take some items home with them wasn't it? I got the impression that this was the reason some of the wealthy were footing the bill in the first place.
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's very true, anneke. Early, the Egptian Museum officials and the (equivalent) SCA would spilt up finds, 50% to the Museum and 50% to the excavators. I understand it was even the policy of the Museum to sell items that they had off-site (in storage) to Egyptologists, and other museums for lack of space, both to show the items and to store them.
The items in the hidden safe were from Tutankhamen's tomb, that's why the safe was "hidden" in a doorway between two rooms. (can't you just see Cararvon sneaking down from his bedroom in the middle of the night to open the safe, take out the jewelry and other items, and, with a maniacal gleam in his eye, laugh hysterically?)
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, in that last remark I was speaking of the son of the Lord Carnarvon who was the original backer of the tomb-opening. He died in Egypt--his son became the new Lord on his fathers death. The son later bacame the father of the present Lord Carnarvon.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2005 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard that Carnarvon's estate does indeed include some Tut artifacts. No one puts up much of a fuss. Had it not been for the man and his deep pockets, Carter could never have afforded to dig in the season of 1922 in the first place. But I don't know for certain if any Tut artifacts have ever been directly associated with Carter's estate. I have no doubt myself, though, that he spirited away a few objects.

There's serious speculation that Carter had discovered the tomb somewhat earlier than history records it. That's why he was desperate to keep Carnarvon interested, and to keep the finance coming. Carter had dug in that same spot (the top of the descending stairs) as far back as 1917, when he had excavated the remains of the huts of the workmen who had built the tomb of Ramesses IV. Now, no one's saying Carter discovered the stairway to Tut's tomb that far back, but the conjecture is he discovered it earlier than everyone typically thinks. In later years Carter's story tended to vary when he gave lectures. Evidently he had the stairway dug down to the door, noted the intact seals but also evidence of ancient robbery, and quickly had everything filled back in. Carter wasn't sure how magnificant the find may be, but it gave him the impetus to keep Carnarvon involved.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the famous photograph inside the tomb of the pair of gaurdian statues outside the sealed entrance to the burial chamber. In between the statues is a pile of reeds, a basket, and a chest. The whole scene seems quite arranged. Well, that's because it was. After opening the tomb the excavators were supposed to stop and wait for a representative of the Egyptian government to come and oversee the dig, but that night Carter, Carnarvon, and Lady Evelyn (Carnarvon's daughter) sneaked back into the tomb and broke through the sealed entry to get a look inside the burial chamber. They did a hasty resealing of the entry and placed the above-mentioned objects in front of their patchwork to conceal their mischief.

With all of this going on, you can bet more than a few objects from Tut's tomb were subjected to the five-finger discount.

Quote:
It was somewhat common up to a certain time for the excavators to be allowed to take some items home with them wasn't it?


In other posts I've mentioned Dr. Tom Mudloff, the Egyptologist who teaches hieroglyphs and other courses at our museum. He's retired now but used to be an active excavator in Egypt. It is still customary for an official of the Egyptian government to be present at all digs, and Mudloff likes to tell of excavations with which he'd been involved at the end of which the government official took up handfuls of ushabti figurines and asked if anyone wanted to take some home. These figurines are probably the single-most common intact artifact from the whole of the dynastic period, and there are simply too many to deal with.
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2005 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had read of the pre-intrusion of Carter, Carnarvon and Lady Evelyn. In my opinion, it's quite understandable. The desire to see what else had been found must have been exreme, to say the least! I remember, several years ago, reading a book on that subject. It was called "The Hidden Tutankhamen" or something like that. I remember it was a very good book!
But it's a real stretch to think that Carter found the top stair, dug down to the sealed door, but re-buried it until 1922. We're talking 5 years here. I could see no reason for him to do so, even the concept of keeping Carnarvon interested. And besides, he was virtually guarenteed for the next 4 years, and only questioned his funds in 1922.
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