UK’s Fleet Street behind King Tut’s fatal curse story

November 14th, 2007 - 10:24 am ICT by admin  

According to a Times Online report, Fleet Street cooked up the story as act of retribution.

When Lord Carnarvon died less than two months after the Pharaoh’s inner tomb was opened, some newspapers, still smarting because he had sold exclusive story rights to The Times, reported that he had fallen victim to an ancient curse.

In fact, he died of blood poisoning after cutting an infected mosquito bite while shaving.

The Morning Post nonetheless predicted “all kinds of disasters for those who tampered with the tombs of the Pharaohs”. Another paper claimed, wrongly, that an inscription inside the tomb read: “They who enter the tomb shall be visited by wings of death.”

When Arthur Mace, another leader of the expedition, died unexpectedly, followed by Albert Lythgoe, an American explorer present at the tomb’s pening, the story took on a life of its own. “The country is seething with mysterious stories predicting that further misfortune will befall the desecrators of the tomb,” the Post reported ghoulishly.

The curse, it seems, was not restricted to people. Carnarvon’s three-legged dog was said to have dropped dead at precisely the same moment as his master.

Howard Carter, the chief archaeologist on the dig, was reported to have come home on the day that the chamber was opened to find that a cobra had swallowed his pet canary.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, gave further credence to the mystery by saying that “an evil elemental” was at work.

The only elements at work here were public credulity combined with Fleet Street devilry, aggravated by a large helping of sour grapes. “All sane people should dismiss such inventions with contempt,” Carter said.

A study in 2002 by Mark Nelson, of Monash University, Melbourne, published in the British Medical Journal, compared the life expectancy of those present at the tomb’s opening with that of the general population and found no statistical difference.

Dr. Nelson said the curse “was almost certainly generated by rival newspapers shut out of the find of the century when exclusive rights were given to The Times”.

Of the 58 people who were present when the tomb and sarcophagus were opened, only eight died within 12 years. Carter lived until 1939 and the doctor who performed the post mortem examination on Tutankhamun died at the age of 75. (ANI)

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