How many people are supposed to have died from the curse of Tutankhamun’s tombs?

Did the Boy Pharaoah hex the people who disturbed his eternal rest? Probably not, but it made for good gossip...

The burial mask of Tutankhamun. From the moment Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in The Valley of Kings in 1922, rumours swirled that a curse would fall on those who disturbed the Boy King's eternal slumber. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)

From the moment that Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in The Valley of Kings in 1922, rumours swirled that a curse would fall on those who disturbed the Boy King’s eternal slumber.

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Within a year, the danger would seem very real, ‘Tut’s Curse’ having claimed its first victim. Over the next decade the obituaries of those who entered the tomb were splashed across the newspapers as evidence of the Pharoah’s vengeance.

It began with the death of Lord Carnarvon – amateur Egyptologist and financial backer of the excavation – in April 1923, from an infected mosquito bite. When asked about the curse, Carter wouldn’t comment (though it was remarked that he looked quite sick himself).

Seven years later, one newspaper identified 14 more victims – including Carter’s secretary and the radiologist who had x-rayed the mummy – plus six unnamed French journalists.

Causes of death ranged from murder, suicide and mystery illness to motor accident. In reality, most lived long lives, but the story was recalled with the death of Carter himself in 1939 (by which time he was in his 60s), and even with the passing a colleague who died at the grand age of 80.

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This article was taken from BBC History Revealed magazine