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Zahi Hawass reveals science behind curse of the pharaohs

A leading archaeologist recently explained that the pharaoh’s curse, which is said to have caused the deaths of people who tried to raid ancient tombs, was actually a simple case of bacterial buildup.

Former Egyptian Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass recently said: told the US Sun Although mythical curses do not exist, they offer advice to modern archaeologists on how to avoid a deadly fate.

This curse has long been believed to haunt anyone who disturbs the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptians, including the men who broke open Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Among them was Lord Carnarvon, who had sponsored the search for Tutankhamun, and five months after opening his tomb in 1923, he discovered an infected mosquito he had cut while shaving. He was stabbed and died.

Others include American financier George Jay Gould, who died of pneumonia after viewing a grave in 1923, Sir Archibald Douglas Reid, who died after having a mummy x-rayed in London, and a post-mortem infection in 1935. They included James Henry Blessed, an American archaeologist who died in . Last trip to Egypt in 1935, According to a report in the Washington Post in 2022.

According to the newspaper, British archaeologist Howard Carter died 17 years after discovering Hodgkin’s disease, but the media at the time was still fueled by the curse.


Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon with Tutankhamun’s coffin. Heritage Images (via Getty Images)

Hawass claimed there was a scientific reason behind the untimely death.

“If you have a mummy in a tomb, there are bacteria present in this mummy that you can’t see,” he told The Sun. “Earlier archaeologists rushed into tombs and died from bacterial infection.”

Hawass gave the example of a recent expedition that avoided a similar fate by staying away from newly opened tomb chambers for 30 minutes to remove germs.


British Egyptologist Howard Carter near Tutankhamun's golden sarcophagus in Egypt in 1922
Howard Carter A British Egyptologist who was near Tutankhamun’s golden sarcophagus in Egypt in 1922. Getty Images

“Just two weeks ago, we discovered a sealed sarcophagus weighing 25 tonnes some 60 feet underground,” he explained to The Sun newspaper. “The lid of the sarcophagus weighed about six tons. Two workers began to open it for me and when they lifted the lid I was able to put my head and see what was inside. Ta.

“When they opened the door, I left it open for about half an hour and didn’t put my head or anything until the bad air went out and fresh air came in. That’s the Pharaoh’s curse.”

When asked if the curse was caused by ancient bacteria, Hawass said: “Absolutely.”

Hawass explained that when Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered, exclusive rights were given to the London Times, leaving other reporters to run wild with speculation.

“Then the rest of the reporters won’t be able to write anything,” he said. “But when Lord Carnarvon died five months after the discovery, they made up many stories about the curse that were not true.”

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