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> The Mummy's Curse <


The best example of a curse surrounds the fabulous wealth which is said to lie burried with the Pharoahs of Ancient Egypt. Ever since the first tombs were opened and rifled by Western explorers, stories of cursed objects which pursue their victims beyond the grave have become legion.

One of the most celebrated curses from the land of the Pyramids concerns the lid of an apparently haunted sarcophagus discovered in the 1860's, this mysterious relic was believed to be the burial casket of a Theban priestess of Amen-Ra and reputedly brought bad luck to all who came in contact with it.

The story goes that one of the lid's first owners, Douglas Murray, lost an arm in a shooting accident soon after he purchased it. The lid was then borrowed by a London Lady journalist and in rapid succession, her mother died, her engagement was broken, and she contracted a mystery illness.

Tales of the macabre jinx persisted after Murray donated the lid to the British Museum. An Egyptologist reportedly died while studying the inscriptions, and a photographer produced film which he claimed showed the peacefull face on the outside of the lid contorted with malice.

Engaging through these stories, it seems that they are entirely fanciful. Egyptologists believe that the fearsome curses inscribed on the burial chamber walls of the pyramids constited no more than a warning to those responcible for the upkeep of the tombs... So they say... Science claims that the mysterious deaths following entry into the tombs could be the work of an unknown bacteria that may have lain dormant for years.

Exavations at Tutankhamun's tomb provided a celebrated instance of an ancient curse brought into the modern world. George Herbert, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon and sponsor of the expedition, ignorned his palmist's warnings and visited the boy king's burial chamber in February 1923. Within two months he was dead - from an infection which developed from a mosquito bite on his cheek.

The story might have ended there, but for a sinister curse engraved above the tomb's doorway which read: 'Death shall come on swift wings to those who disturb the sleep of th pharaoh' - and for several strange events coinciding with the Earl's death.
Not only did the Egyptian capital Cairo suffer massive power failure, but at his London home the Earl's favourite dog howled and fell dead. Even more intriguingly, when the remains of the boy king were examined, doctors noted a scab-like mark on the left cheek. The blemish was in the same place as the Earl's own fatal bite.
The press of the time latched on to these curious incidents and eagerly awaited news of any further deaths which could be ascribed to what became known as the 'Curse of Tutankhamun'. As it turned out, no less than 22 people who had been involved with the Carnarvon expedition were dead within six years - including 13 men who first worked at the dig. Others, however, survived to a ripe old age, including the excavation's director Howard Carter - an obvious target for the Pharaoh's displeasure.

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