King Tut's Curse and Research Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Their design was no more crude than tile bed I was using" (Fertado). He even slept on the beds that had been entombed over 3,000 years before, showing no ill effects! In fact, Adamson lived to be 82 years old and died in 1982, sixty years after the discovery and with no ill effects from his experience.

Even today, rumors about the curse continue to swirl around King Tut and his tomb. For example, the researchers who discovered that King Tut died from an infected broken bone used a CT scan to evaluate his mummy. Reporter Hayes notes, "While performing the CT scan of King Tut, we had several strange occurrences,' Selim said. 'The electricity suddenly went out, the CT scanner could not be started and a team member became ill. If we weren't scientists, we might have become believers in the Curse of the Pharaohs'" (Hayes). Certainly, the scientist was speaking with his tongue in his cheek, but this clearly indicates how myths and legends develop and continue. Strange occurrences cannot just be "chance," they must be tied to something, and so, myths and legends grow up. That does not mean they are true, but only that they are believable, or at least credible so some individuals. These people were scientists, and they were perplexed by the occurrences, so it is easy to see how laypeople can get caught up in the madness of myth and legend, and perpetuate them, as well.

Finally, in a study released in 2002 by an Australian researcher, the curse myth is officially debunked. The researcher, Mark Nelson, looked at records of all the people known to have worked at or in the tomb. A reporter notes, "But Mr. Nelson said, 'I found there was no evidence that being present at the opening of the tomb, sarcophagus, coffin or the unwrapping of the mummy shortened a person's life'" (Editors). The records indicate that most of the people associated with the work at the tomb lived to old age, and the tomb had no effect on their general health.

In conclusion, the curse of King Tut may have seemed very real at the time, and it certainly drew a huge following. It exists even today, indicating just how pervasive a rumor like this can be. However, most studies indicate the curse is a myth - something that is believed to be true and so it persists. In fact, it seems the curse is just that, a myth that has no substance in real fact. True, Lord Carnarvon died, but it has been established that he died of an insect bite, rather than a trip to the tomb. In addition, there have been other rational explanations for any deaths associated with the tomb, and modern studies show that the curse is a myth that is not substantiated by actual facts and figures. King Tut was a legendary figure, and his tomb was one of the most spectacular ever unearthed in Egypt. It is easy to see how myths like this one could grow to massive proportions, simply because of the enormous nature of the discovery. However, King Tut's curse may be good box office for the King Tut exhibit and to lure visitors to the tomb itself, but research indicates it just is not true, it is a fiction that exists in the minds of people, but without any credibility or substantiation.

Literature Review

Editors. "King Tut's Curse a Myth, Study Says." New York Times. 2002. 12 Feb. 2009.

This short article discusses the study by Mark Nelson, which helped dispel the myth hovering over King Tut's tomb. It discusses how Nelson came to his conclusion that the curse is a myth - he used very real data to come up with the determination that the curse did not exist, because most of the people associated with the discovery lived to old age.

The article is extremely useful in dispelling the myth because it shows how Nelson came to his conclusions, how valid they were, and how they were much more reliable than the newspaper accounts of the day, which were outlandish at best. Nelson's study used real people and real facts, while the myth was built on speculation and legend, and this article was extremely useful in illustrating the curse is in fact fiction.

Fertado, Peter. "Tutankhamun's Last Guardian?" History Today Nov. 2007: 22.

This journal article, written by British reporter Peter Fertado, discusses the role of Richard Adamson in the location of the tomb. Adamson claimed he took a photo that helped lead discoverer Howard Carter to the entrance of the tomb, and then lived in the tomb for seven years, guarding its contents while Carter catalogued every item in the tomb. Adamson participated in documentaries, traveled back to Egypt to reminisce about his experiences, and claimed his photos had never been returned to him. Some speculate that he overplayed his importance in finding the tomb, and he died without substantiating all his claims.

This article is important to the overall research because it helps explain some of the riches found in the tomb that could have led to the development of the curse myth. In addition, it indicates how important the find was to the world, and most of all, it helps dispel the myth because it shows that someone actually lived in the tomb for many years, suffering no ill effects from the experience.

Handwerk, Brian. "Egypt's 'King Tut Curse' Caused by Tomb Toxins?" National 2005. 12 Feb. 2009.

This article discusses the discovery of "tomb toxins" and what they are, in relationship to the curse and its truth. The author interviews archeologists who have worked in tombs, along with the scientists who discovered tomb toxins to show that they could have been the cause of Lord Carnarvon's death, but that it is unlikely. Research shows there are numerous toxins in tombs, but the researchers never found any evidence that they harmed anyone, and since Adamson claims to have slept in the tomb for seven years, their work seems to bear this out. There are certainly toxins in tombs, but most scientists do not worry about them, and they do not seem to be the cause of any lingering health problems.

This article is important because it shows there can be other explanations for Carnarvon's death, and that tomb toxins certainly exist. They also call the myth into question, noting that Carnarvon died six months after being in the tomb, and that most of the toxins they have found in tombs act much quicker than that. Therefore, the article helps with evidence that the myth is just that - a myth.

Hayes, Jacqui. "King Tut's Death Official: Broken Leg." Cosmos Online. 2006. 12 Feb. 2009.

This article discusses the findings that King Tut was not murdered, but instead died of an infected broken leg. It also shows how research, including research on tomb toxins, above, has become more advanced in recent years and can uncover elements of items that have gone undiscovered for centuries, or even thousands of years in this case. It also indicates that the scientists had some unusual experiences during their study of King Tut, experiences that led them to say the might believe in the reality curse if they did not know better.

This article was extremely helpful because it helped indicate how research can grow over time, but it also illustrates how myths get started over pretty mundane things, and how they can perpetuate for decades, too. It also helped prove that continuing research can unearth new facts, and it helped dispel the curse because it supported other continuing research that notes that we really do not know everything about King Tut and his tomb, and we probably never will.

Pendelbury, Richard. "Revealed 3,000 Years on, the Toothy Truth about the Face of Young King Tut." The Daily Mail (London, England) 5 Nov. 2007: 12.

This article explained how the King Tub exhibit has taken the world by storm, and how interest in the King continues to grow. It also shows that additional studies continue into King Tut, his life, and the discovery of his tomb, which is another reason that they idea of the curse continues.

This article was helpful because it talks about the curse, the deaths, and how the speculation about the curse grew. It also points to current and continuing research on Tut and his life, which helps explain why there were so many riches in his tomb that helped lead to the creation of the curse myth.


Editors. "King Tut's Curse a Myth, Study Says." New York Times. 2002. 12 Feb. 2009.

Fertado, Peter. "Tutankhamun's Last Guardian?" History Today Nov. 2007: 22.

Handwerk, Brian. "Egypt's 'King Tut Curse' Caused by Tomb Toxins?" National 2005. 12 Feb. 2009.

Hayes, Jacqui. "King Tut's Death Official: Broken Leg." Cosmos Online. 2006. 12 Feb. 2009.

Pendelbury, Richard. "Revealed 3,000 Years on, the Toothy Truth about…

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