King Tut’s tomb mysterious ‘Pharaoh’s Curse’


April 27, 2024, 2:15 a.m. ET

The unsettling curse of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt has bewildered archaeologists since it’s been feared to be linked to the mysterious deaths of multiple of the excavators who discovered it in 1922.

However, a scientist now claims to have solved the mysteries of the infamous “Pharaoh’s Curse” more than 100 years later.

Toxic levels of radiation emanating from uranium and poisonous waste are believed to have lingered inside the tomb since it was sealed over 3,000 years ago, Ross Fellowes wrote last month in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE).

The burial chamber in the tomb of Tutankhamun, near Luxor, Egypt. Universal History Archive/Univer

The radiation level inside Tutankhamun’s tomb is so high that anyone who comes in contact with it could very likely develop a fatal dose of radiation sickness and cancer.

“Both contemporary and ancient Egypt populations are characterized by unusually high incidences of hematopoietic cancers, of bone/blood/lymph, for which a primary known cause is radiation exposure,” Fellowes wrote in his study.

However, this radioactivity isn’t isolated to Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Fellowes revealed that “unusually high radiation levels have been documented in Old Kingdom tomb ruins” and spread throughout sites in Egypt.

“Radiation has been detected by the Geiger counter at two sites at Giza adjacent to the pyramids,” he wrote, adding that radon — a radioactive gas — has also been detected in “several underground tombs at Saqqara.”

The “Coffinette for the Viscera of Tutankhamun,” which contained the king’s mummified liver, depicts him as Osiris, holding a crook and flail. AP

Medical imagery of Tutankhamun is shown above a replica of King Tut’s skull on display during the “Tutankhamun And The Golden Age Of The Pharaohs” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California. Getty Images

These readings were all found to be “intensely radioactive.”

“Modern studies confirm very high levels of radiation in ancient Egyptian tombs, in the order of 10x accepted safety standards,” the study shared.

It’s also theorized that those who built the ancient tombs were aware of the toxins based on the eerie warnings carved on the walls.

“The nature of the curse was explicitly inscribed on some tombs, with one translated presciently as, ‘they that break this tomb shall meet death by a disease that no doctor can diagnose,’” Fellowes wrote.

Outside the tomb of Tutankhamun during the 1922 excavation in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Getty Images

Other ominous translations like “forbidden” because of “evil spirits” may have significantly fueled the fear that supernatural curses lingered in the ancient sites.

Those fears intensified with the mysterious deaths of Lord Carnarvon, who funded the excavation in 1922 and reportedly walked through the treasured filled rooms — and multiple others after they unsealed the tomb.

“Carnarvon was dead within a few weeks of the uncertain diagnosis of blood poisoning and pneumonia,” Fellowes wrote.

Egyptologist Howard Carter (R) walks with archaeologist Lord Carnarvon, the patron of his research, outside the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. Getty Images

Egyptologist Arthur Weigall allegedly told colleagues that Carnarvon would “be dead within six weeks” upon entering, the study claimed.

Howard Carter, the first person to walk inside Tutankhamun’s tomb with Carnarvon, died in 1939 after a long battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was suspected to be caused by radiation poisoning.

British Egyptologist and independent excavator Arthur Weigall was present at the opening of Tut’s Tomb and is also credited with starting the ‘myth’ of the curse.

He died of cancer at 54 years old in 1934.

Workers remove a tray of chariot parts from the Tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt, in 1922. Getty Images

In total, six of the 26 people present when the tomb was opened died within a decade from asphyxia, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, pneumonia, poisoning, malaria and X-ray exposure.

While the deaths can be seen as odd, the curse theory was also likely fueled by the oddities that happened when it opened.

Carnarvon had reportedly suffered a mosquito bite that became severely infected.

Around the time excavators opened the tomb, Cairo reportedly suffered a bizarre power outage and a freak sandstorm, according to National Geographic.’

At one point during the excavation, Carnarvon’s favorite dog allegedly let out a chilling howl and suddenly dropped dead.

A monochrome photograph showing guards standing outside the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt in 1922. Corbis via Getty Images

A sacred cow being removed from Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. Bettmann Archive

From a historical perspective, the discovery of the tomb in the Valley of Kings is considered one of the most fascinating finds that gave modern society a glimpse into the Egyptian royalty voyage into the afterlife.

Five thousand items, including solid gold funeral shoes, statues, games, and strange animals, were discovered inside Tutankhamun’s tombs.

It would take the excavators ten years to clear the tomb of its treasure.

The golden funerary mask of Tutankhamun. Getty Images

The unsealing and studying of the tomb is also credited with launching the modern era of Egyptology.

Tutankhamun took the throne as pharaoh around nine or ten years old and ruled between 1332 BC and 1323 BC. 

However, he died by the time he turned 18.

There are no surviving records of Tutankhamun’s death and how the young pharaoh died remains a mystery.

However, Tutankhamun is suspected to have suffered from several health issues — likely linked to his father, Akhenaten, and his mother, Nefertiti, being brother and sister.

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