No evidence for the existence of the 'mummy's curse'

December 19, 2002

There is no evidence for the existence of the mummy's curse, reputedly associated with the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt, between February 1923 and November 1926, finds a study in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

According to the writings of Howard Carter, 25 Westerners were present at the breach of sacred seals in a previously undisturbed area of the pharaoh's tomb, and were therefore potentially exposed to the curse. A further 19 were in Egypt at the time but not recorded by him to have been present at the site at the relevant time.

Mark Nelson of Monash University in Australia established dates of death for all of those exposed and 11 (58%) of those not. In the 25 people exposed to the curse, the average age at death was 70 years compared with 75 in those not exposed.

There was no significant association between exposure to the mummy's curse and survival and thus no evidence to support the existence of a mummy's curse, says the author. Perhaps finally it, like the tragic boy king Tutankhamen, may be put to rest, he concludes.


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