Monday, May 7, 2012

Cloudy Days and Curses

Here are two pictures of Seattle looking dreary:

     Yesterday, I thought I was going to a King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. My friend works for a company that is sponsoring the exhibit so he was given free tickets to the PSC. But there was a mix up with the dates and King Tut is not actually in Seattle yet. We wandered around the Pacific Science Center instead. But, I still have King Tut on my mind and more specifically.... The Curse of the Pharaohs! Most people know that disturbing a mummy tomb belonging to an ancient Egyptian is a very dangerous endeavor. Not just because of booby traps and dark corridors, but because of the potential for ancient curses. It is believed that many of these tombs, especially if belonging to a pharaoh, are under a potent curse, which still wields power even in the modern days. The curse is extra vicious because not only does it punish thieves and bandits trying to steal vast riches from the tombs, but it also punishes the curious and diligent archeologists. The curse surrounding King Tut is one of the most well known, but there were other mummies who seemed to cause strife for the people dealing with them. in some cases the curse involves the mummy's ghost lingering around the person in possession of them. One sailor was bothered by two ghosts until he threw the mummies overboard. Another archeologist was bothered by the ghosts of two child mummies until he reunited the child mummies with the mummy's of their parents. That same archeologist experienced a death in the family the day he transported artifacts from an excavating site. In the two subsequent years, on the anniversary of the first death, another family member died. But of course the most famous curse is of King Tut.
     Many people who helped excavate King Tut fell to untimely deaths, which helped fuel the belief in a curse. The first unfortunate to die was Lord Carnarvon. He died of blood poisoning after nicking a swollen mosquito bit with a razor. In the subsequent years, 17 more deaths were attributed to the curse of the pharaohs. Some of the people who died were relations of people at the excavation and some were actually present. Although the idea of a real mummy's curse is interesting, the legend looses its vivacity when confronted with the fact that out of the 58 people present for the excavation of King Tut, only eight actually died within the next dozen years.
     Other than exaggeration, there are other explanations for the deaths that are less mystical then a curse. Some scientists believe that a deadly fungus lurks in the tomb. The fungus may have been placed their on purpose to punish daring grave robbers with images of jewels sparkling in their eyes. Bacteria growing steadily in the damp, undisturbed tombs could also cause danger. Tomb roosting bats and their guano may also contain dangerous pathogens.
     Weather the deaths were caused by a curse, toxins or coincidences, it is an interesting story. To my modern sensibilities, ancient Egyptian culture seems fascinating and tinged with magic, which is why I think people so easily gave credence to the curse story.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Good morning my friend and happy Monday! I have always found Egyptian culture to be so very fascinating. I have always been particularly interersted in the studies of the construction of the pyramids!

Amber said...

Hello and happy Monday to you too. I agree that Egyptian culture is very interesting! I forgot how interesting it is until this King Tut exhibit decided to come to town and I've been seeing all the advertisements. I remember studying Ancient Egyptian culture and mythology years and years ago in middle school. It was a fun unit! I wish I remembered more of what I learned.