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King Tutankhamen's curse
November 29, 2006 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Is King Tut's tomb cursed? On February 16, 1923, Egyptologist Howard Carter, his financier George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and Herbert's daughter Lady Evelyn Herbert entered the just-discovered tomb of the Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamen. Newspapers sensationalized the discovery, and told of a curse. Herbert dies in a Cairo hospital at 2 AM on April 5, 1923, only several months later. Supposedly, right at that moment, lights in Cairo go dark, and his dog at his estate back home in England howls and also drops dead.

However, Carter and Lady Evelyn contine living healthy lives, and examination shows that on average, everyone associated with the discovery lived normal-length lives. Herbert was not in good health even before the discovery, and died of blood poisoning from an infected mosquito bite. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, among others, thought it was fungus.

So now, when scientists perform a CT scan of the body, strange stuff happens: “one researcher's vehicle nearly hit a child. Then a huge storm hit. The CT machine, usually reliable, wouldn't work at first. And when researchers finally began the CT scan, one scientist came down with such a violent coughing attack he had to leave.” Discoveries made? King Tut was 5'10' an 18-20 years old when he died. He probably died of gangrene from a broken femur, not with a blow to the head as previously thought. His head is cut off, his body is cut in two, and his wrist, shoulder, and elbow joints are disconnected. Oh, and his penis is missing.
posted by bkudria (52 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I cannot tell a lie. I took the penis.
posted by storybored at 8:24 AM on November 29, 2006


one researcher's vehicle nearly hit a child

What was his car insurance premium afterwards?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:24 AM on November 29, 2006


Well, if it were cursed, I would expect Herbert to die of something like a mosquito bite. I don't exactly believe in things being cursed, but I do like this post.

I feel so guilty, but the first thing I thought when I saw the last sentence was 'i'm in ur tomb, stealing ur dong'
posted by pinespree at 8:25 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Howard Carter: i'm in ur t0mb robbing ur gr@ve
Ghost of King Tut: O RLY?
posted by The Tensor at 8:26 AM on November 29, 2006 [6 favorites]


missing?
posted by caddis at 8:28 AM on November 29, 2006


O rly?

Mine was there all along too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:37 AM on November 29, 2006


Maybe we should ask whoever has Napoleon's.
posted by hermitosis at 8:38 AM on November 29, 2006


I thought that in a recent news story, they announced they had found the penis, that it had kind of.. *ahem* fallen into the body.
posted by bristolcat at 8:38 AM on November 29, 2006


Every once in a while I lose my penis, but it always seems to turn up.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:43 AM on November 29, 2006


Every once in a while I lose my penis, but it always seems to turn up.

Did you find it on a blanket, next to an old toaster oven?
posted by dr_dank at 8:48 AM on November 29, 2006


King Tut's been posting to AskMe quite a bit, lately.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:01 AM on November 29, 2006


Wasn't there a song about a detachable penis or was that just a dream I had?

pinespree, thanks, that made me laugh and got quizzical looks from my co-workers!
posted by fenriq at 9:07 AM on November 29, 2006


Someone is stealing the great wieners of antiquity!

Wasn't that a movie?

Oh, no.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:15 AM on November 29, 2006


Oh there most definitely is.

My girlfriend looked at me funny when I started singing along to it on the radio in the car. She had never heard it.
posted by ninjew at 9:15 AM on November 29, 2006


ninjew, thanks!
posted by fenriq at 9:20 AM on November 29, 2006


Perhaps most shockingly, most of the world's population died after the tomb was opened in 1923.

It took a while, though.
posted by waldo at 9:21 AM on November 29, 2006


"i'm in ur tomb, stealing ur dong"

pinespree, you made my day with that. thanks
posted by milarepa at 9:24 AM on November 29, 2006


I was just thinking about detachable penis the other day! I was trying to remember the name of the band and all I could come up with was Dinosaur Jr., which I knew was wrong. So yea, wow.
posted by Mister_A at 9:45 AM on November 29, 2006


The CT machine, usually reliable, wouldn't work at first. And when researchers finally began the CT scan, one scientist came down with such a violent coughing attack he had to leave.

WOULDN'T WORK AT FIRST?

a COUGHING ATTACK?

My God, it's time just to nuke all King Tut artifacts, and the tomb, from space.
posted by argybarg at 9:51 AM on November 29, 2006


His penis was there all along.

Oh, on preview, Astro Zombia already linked the penis.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:02 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombia already linked the penis

My new band name.
posted by dbiedny at 10:08 AM on November 29, 2006


"only several months later"
And I had the shits something awful a week after seeing "The Mummy II". Coincidence?
posted by 2sheets at 10:15 AM on November 29, 2006


MetaFilter: Linked the penis.
posted by loquacious at 10:20 AM on November 29, 2006


This just goes to show... even if you work hard, become King as a child, rule of a large portion of the known world, have pyramids and gold coffins bulit in your honor ... all that seems to matter to people is your penis.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2006


the best argument, like, EV4R, in favor of cremation is that 3,300 years from now strangers on the Internet could make fun of the fact that somebody stole your mummified dick and is probably trying to sell it on eBay (not to mention the prodding your castrated corpse could end up enduring at the hands of some nerds in a foul-smelling university lab)

curses are useless if you don't want people to fuck -- literally? -- with your corpse. cremation is the way to go.
posted by matteo at 10:35 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


fenriq : Wasn't there a song about a detachable penis or was that just a dream I had?

What's the deal with Detachable Penis? I haven't thought of that song in years and suddenly it's referenced on MeFi twice in less than 24 hours.

Clearly there is a cabal at work here.
posted by quin at 11:04 AM on November 29, 2006


Isn't 5'10" like freakishly tall for that time?
posted by stopgap at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2006


I was trying to remember the name of the band and all I could come up with was Dinosaur Jr

King Missile. Martin Scorsese is also a good song.
posted by dgaicun at 11:17 AM on November 29, 2006


"nearly hit a child," "huge storm," "violent coughing attack" != curse. "Jinx," "hex," or "whammy" might be more appropriate. Beware the mummy's whammy!
posted by kimota at 11:28 AM on November 29, 2006


There is no cabal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:34 AM on November 29, 2006


Yep, Tut went to pieces. He was whole until Carter's excavation.

The problem: Resin. Lots of oils and and other goop were poured into the coffins as part of the closing rituals. The Egyptians didn't quite grok exactly why their mummification worked, so they didn't grok that pouring liquids (thus, adding moisture) in wasn't a good idea.

Now, time passes -- over three millennia, as a matter of fact, and Carter shows up. He spends a long time arguing with the Egyptians and (very carefully, with a great deal of documentation) clearing the tomb. They finally get to the point where they can actually open the coffin, only to find -- another coffin.

Damn. They try to open that, but it ain't moving. They hoist it out, set boards across the sarcophagus, and set it down, because they can't figure out why the damn thing is so heavy. They get the coffin open, only to find -- another coffin...

...made of solid gold...

...lots of gold...

...two hundred and twenty pounds of gold...

..and it's glued into the second coffin by the now congealed oils.

Oops.

So they open the third coffin, only to find -- a mummy! (thank ghod -- they'd opened four shrines, one sarcophagus, and three coffins to get this far.) With a really wifty mask, that was only about 15 pounds (yes, pounds) of gold. And a mummy. And oils. Or, really, what was left of the oils.

Tut wasn't leaving his coffin, because for all intents, he was glued in.

So, Carter calls on one Douglas Derry to unwrap and "autopsy" the mummy. This proves to be tough, given the little problem with the glued-in mummy. Derry deals with it, writes the report, and Tut is re-interred, placed on a tray of sand, which is laid into the outer coffin, which is placed back into the Sarcophagus. Unlike all the other New Kingdom Pharaohs, he was found undisturbed in his tomb, so it was treated as both an archaeological dig *and* a royal tomb. He's still there today. Aside -- Sometime in Antiquity, Amenophis II was also restored to his tomb, he spent a good deal of the 20th Century there, but he's been moved to the Cairo Museum.

Time passes. Researchers decide that, hey, an X-ray of Tut would be a good idea, and they decided to do it. So, they get a portable unit, and head to the Valley of the Kings, where they open the coffin of Tut, and find out...

...that Tut's a little beside himself. See, nobody had really payed attention to Derry, and how he had managed to unwrap the mummy. The answer was simple -- he'd cut Tut out of his coffin, first the head, then the torso, in two pieces, then then legs. So, while Tut wasn't in the best of shape to start with, he was in much worse shape when Derry was done.

Carter did a very credible job in clearing the tomb -- well beyond the standards of the day (but we could have learned so much more now -- we have so many more tools, and we've learned a great deal about the damage clearance causes.)

Derry, however, was nothing but a hack.
posted by eriko at 11:51 AM on November 29, 2006 [18 favorites]


How did I know that comment was written by eriko even before I saw his name?

Very very cool, eriko, thanks.

Does anyone know where the ancient Egyptians got all that gold? I realize Africa in general is rich in gold, but I doubt they knew how to mine it, especially in those quantities...
posted by Pastabagel at 12:04 PM on November 29, 2006


You know, if there was a curse, the guy who stole Tut's todger would be in for a good arse invasion by demons with barbed prongs.
posted by pracowity at 12:10 PM on November 29, 2006


curses are useless if you don't want people to fuck -- literally? -- with your corpse. cremation is the way to go.
posted by matteo at 1:35 PM EST on November 29


Nooooo. I think it's pretty obvious from eriko's comment that the only way to go is to be encased in 220 lbs of solid gold.

for my part, I intend to be encased in uranium, and buried in a lead coffin. When grave robbers crack it open in 3000 years, they'll get a very special high energy curse.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:11 PM on November 29, 2006


I thought that in a recent news story, they announced they had found the penis, that it had kind of.. *ahem* fallen into the body.

So what you're saying is that there was more inside? Wish the OP had known that . . .
posted by The Bellman at 12:49 PM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


eriko - I went to favourite your comment and ... um ... I think I flagged it instead. Sorry about that.
posted by Grangousier at 1:50 PM on November 29, 2006


Broken femur, gangrene, early death, assorted violations of his grave and person, missing/deflated penis... and the researchers think they were cursed?
posted by Soliloquy at 2:25 PM on November 29, 2006


This is nothing compared to The Curse of the Mummenschanz. It's silent, but deadly!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:50 PM on November 29, 2006


Now, when I die,
don’t think I’m a nut,
don’t want no fancy funeral,
Just one like ole king Tut. (king Tut)

posted by terrapin at 2:59 PM on November 29, 2006


Speaking of penii, isn't Nostradamus' Rasputin's wang sitting in a glass jar somewhere?
posted by porpoise at 3:36 PM on November 29, 2006


Does anyone know where the ancient Egyptians got all that gold? I realize Africa in general is rich in gold, but I doubt they knew how to mine it, especially in those quantities...

It's widely accepted that the Egyptians were mining copper in abundance in the Neolithic period (8,000 years ago), so by the time Tut came around, I bet they had the gold mining thing in spades.
posted by Specklet at 4:23 PM on November 29, 2006


In terms of wood, Egypt got the shaft. They had some scrawny little trees, and papyrus, but nothing you could even make a decent flagpole out of.

In exchange, they got a rock. Well, lots of rocks -- some incredibly high grade limestone and sandstone, for starters, until they figured out how to mine the very nice granite and very, very hard quartzite they had as well.

Then they started finding copper, then gold.

And more gold.

And more gold.

And (well, this is getting old.) more gold.

And more gold.

And more gold.

And we're not kidding about the gold.

The Armana tablets were a series of letters between various rulers to Amenophis III and Akhenaten. Basically, diplomatic notes and the like.

A common lament in the letters was "In your country, gold is like dust. Please send the gold I need to finish my palace."

If you take Tutankhamen as a typical example, you have to figure that your typical New Kingdom Pharaoh was buried with about 300 pounds of gold. From the 18th through the 20th Dynasties, there were 32 Pharaohs. 32*300=9600, or damn near five tons of Gold -- just to bury the kings.

Egypt lasted as a civilization for two reasons -- the Nile Floods meant you could keep feeding people, and the gold meant you could trade for anything you didn't have.

Like wood. Cedar logs from Lebanon were a huge hit in Egypt.
posted by eriko at 5:40 PM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Actually, the Egyptians got most of their gold from the Nubians.

Er, rather took it from them.

Gold, oil, what's the difference?
posted by cptnrandy at 5:44 PM on November 29, 2006


This just goes to show, even if you spend a lot of time writing a thoughtful frontpage post, most members of metafilter will opt to make a comment about the penis.
posted by crunchland at 5:49 PM on November 29, 2006


In a race to get attention, if the contestants are a missing penis and a car accident that didn't happen, bet on the penis.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:25 PM on November 29, 2006


hehehehehehe, crunchland said "members."
posted by terrapin at 7:25 PM on November 29, 2006


Speaking of penii, isn't Rasputin's wang sitting in a glass jar somewhere?

Porn dick in jar.
Surprisingly safe for work.
posted by dgaicun at 9:04 PM on November 29, 2006


Is King Tut's tomb cursed?

No.
posted by grubi at 5:50 AM on November 30, 2006


Yeah, sorry about not doing the whole MI thing. It's my first fpp and I've learned my lesson. I'm glad this topic can be so captivating.
posted by bkudria at 6:17 AM on November 30, 2006


There is no cabal.

The First Rule of the cabal is: You don't talk about the cabal. And Rule Six: There is no Rule Six.
posted by spock at 6:54 AM on November 30, 2006


There was no cabal.

Rule six: People who mindlessly recite Python lines are not funny.
posted by eriko at 7:55 AM on November 30, 2006


There was no cabal.

Rule six: People who mindlessly recite Python lines are not funny.

Actually, the Egyptians got most of their gold from the Nubians.

Arguable -- that hunk of land wasn't really able to support a civilization, so it sort of bounced back and forth between the Nubian civilizations in the far south and Egypt in the north (generally, the lands between the 2nd and 5th cataracts of the Nile.)

During the New Kingdom, there were very large gold mines north of the first cataract -- we have a map, data from the reign of Seti I, to one of the major Egyptian gold mines.
posted by eriko at 8:04 AM on November 30, 2006


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