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The Tutankhamens Curse - Essay Example

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The Tutankhamen’s curse is considered to be one of the most thrilling mysteries of the 20th century, and many people continue building up various hypotheses about it. The present essay would focus on investigating such mystery and related statements…
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The Tutankhamens Curse
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History
Tutankhamen’s Curse
The Tutankhamen’s curse is considered to be one of the most thrilling mysteries of the 20th century, and many people continue building up various hypotheses about it. This mystery gained such popularity among mystery lovers all over the world is a range of enigmatical deaths following the discovery of the pharaoh’s tomb in 1922. Over 20 people related in some way to the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb in Luxor died under unclear circumstances during the next several years, and six of them died in London. These were not only direct participants of the opening, but also their relatives. Moreover, one of the two leaders of the expedition, Lord George Carnarvon, died six weeks after the tomb’s disclosure. Fueled by numerous details, like the story about a canary and a cobra, and morbid imagination of journalists, the case gained a reputation of a mysterious tragedy, caused by the “Mummy’s Curse”, supernatural power of ancient Egyptians. Being adamant about the supernatural origins of the deaths, adherents of the curse created a legend that scares people even nowadays.
However, numerous scholars became interested in this case and started searching for rational explanation of the phenomenon. And here, too, various theories have emerged. One of the most likely theories suggested by many scientists as a result of scrutinous researches is that the key role in deaths was played by the environment of the burial chamber that actually affected health of those who entered the newly unlocked tomb. This theory originates in the first half of the 20th century when it was also supported by Sir Arthur Conan Dole who considered the fungi to have been put into the tomb deliberately to punish robbers. In 1986, Dr. Caroline Stenger-Phillip suggested that it was an ancient mould existing in the tomb. Modern researches prove that there are indeed specimens of pathogenic moulds and bacteria that can cause allergic reactions varying from congestion to bleeding in lungs (Holloway, 2013). According to Jennifer Wegner, an Egyptologist from Philadelphia, food placed into the tombs intended for afterlife, could have attracted insects, moulds and bacteria. Thus, this theory considers bacteria to be the reason of diseases and deaths.
On the other hand, this theory has its flaws as if all entering the tomb were exposed to the deadly fungi, they probably would have died much sooner that many months and years later. The theory that appears to be more plausible was offered by Mark Nelson in 2002 and involves statistical methods as a basis for the explanation. According to the theory, average life expectancy of those members of the expedition who were exposed to the curse and those who were not differs little (Dunning, 2008). The conclusion made by Nelson in the outcome of the analysis stated: "There was no significant association between exposure to the mummy's curse and survival and thus no evidence to support the existence of a mummy's curse" (Nelson, 2002).
These scientific hypotheses appear to be rather plausible and explain the deaths of the archaeologists better than the legend about the curse developed by pop culture. First, if it was the curse, it is unclear why Howard Carter, the actual leader of the research group, happened to live till the respectable age of 64 and die in 1939 under no unnatural circumstances. This is the primary argument refuting the curse hypothesis, as the curse would have killed Carter then. Second, the average age of the research group members was 74 years, and this is quite enough to consider their deaths natural. In fact, Carter who was virtually the youngest in the group died later than all of them. Of course, there are more theories seeking to explain the mystery – including also a hypothesis about Aleister Crowley’s role in the range of deaths – but these two seem to me to be the most likely.
References:
Dunning, Brian. (2008) "King Tut's Curse!" Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., Retrieved October 15 from: http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4106
Holloway, April. (2013) The Curse of Tutankhamen’s Tomb: A Scientific Explanation? - Part 2, Ancient Origins. Retrieved October 15 from: http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/curse-tutankhamen-s-tomb-scientific-explanation-part-2-00747
Nelson, M. "The Mummy's Curse: Historical Cohort Study." British Medical Journal. 21 Dec. 2002, Volume 325, Number 7378: 1482-1485. Read More
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