King Tut's Curse the Mummy Essay

Pages: 4 (1327 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Archeology


The dates of potential exposure to unknown substances are February 17, 1923 -- when the third door was opened, February 3, 1926 -- the date the sarcophagus was opened, December 10, 1926 -- the date the coffin was opened, and November 11, 1926 -- the date the mummy was examined (Dowdy, 2013).

It has been proposed that one of the reasons that many of the people who entered King Tutankhamen's tomb fell ill was because they were exposed to dangerous molds. Ancient meat, vegetable and fruit funerary offerings, as well as preserved human bodies -- basically all organic materials -- have been known to house molds such as Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus flavus, both of which have been known to cause allergic reactions that may lead to congestion and/or bleeding of the lungs (Dowdy, 2013). Additionally, bat guano found in tombs is also known to grow fungus, which can lead to the influenza-like respiratory disease histoplasmosis (Handwerk, 2005). Additionally, Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus have been known to grow on tomb walls (Handwerk, n.d.). Sarcophagi are also known to house formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia gas, which can cause burning of the eyes and nose, pneumonia-like symptoms, and in the most severe cases, death (Handwerk, 2005). In 1999, German microbiologist Gotthard Kramer of the University of Leipzig analyzed 40 mummies and found potentially harmful mold spores on each (Krystek, 2012).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on King Tut's Curse the Mummy's Assignment

Another possible explanation of the numerous deaths shortly after the unsealing of King Tutankhamen's tomb is age. In 2002, Mark Nelson of the University of Melbourne in Australia randomly selected 44 Westerners in Egypt at the time the tomb was opened and of the 44, determined that 25 were potentially exposed to the "curse" (Krystek, 2012). Nelson determined that the average age of the sample group of people potentially exposed was 70-years-old and the survival rate for those individual's not exposed to the tomb was 75-years-old, which indicates that exposure to King Tutankhamen's tomb did not have a significant impact on the deaths of those that fell victim to the "mummy's curse" (Krystek, 2012). Furthermore, death from infections was relatively high during this time due to the lack of antibiotics (Krystek, 2012). In fact, Lord Carnarvon's death cannot be solely attributed to the mosquito bite as he is known to have pre-existing health issues prior to the excavation of King Tutankhamen's tomb.

While it is romantic to associate these deaths with a curse, no one will ever know what contributed to the numerous deaths of those associated with King Tutankhamen's tomb, however, it is very possible that age, and molds such as Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Pseudomonas, and Staphylococcus, had a significant negative impact on those individuals that entered the tomb and who handled the mummy's body. Since there have not been any other tombs found as intact as King Tutankhamen's, it is difficult to determine to what degree these potential molds affected those present and how many mold spores were inhaled at the time the tomb was unsealed. Surprisingly, Howard Carter, who had the most contact with the tomb and the objects sealed within, lived until 1939, outlasting the majority of those that had fallen victim to the "mummy's curse."


Conradt, S. (2009, Nov 20). The Quick 10: Nine victims of King Tut's curse (and one that should have been). MentalFloss. Accessed 25 April 2013, from

Dowdy, S. (2013). Was there really a curse on King Tutankhamen's tomb? HowStuffWorks.

Accessed 25 April 2013, from

Handwerk, B. (n.d.). Curse of the mummy. National Geographic. Accessed 25 April 2013,


Handwerk, B. (2005, May 6). Egypt's "King Tut Curse" caused by tomb toxins? National

Geographic News. Accessed 25 April 2013, from

Krystek, L. (2012). Howard Carter and the curse… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "King Tut's Curse the Mummy" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

King Tut's Curse the Mummy.  (2013, April 26).  Retrieved November 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"King Tut's Curse the Mummy."  26 April 2013.  Web.  28 November 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"King Tut's Curse the Mummy."  April 26, 2013.  Accessed November 28, 2021.