The Death and Curse of Tutankhamen Essay

Tutankhamen was born in 1341 BC and died at 17 years. The young pharaoh at 9 years old accomplished very little in Egypt’s history, for example he did not expand Egypt’s borders as many previous pharaohs did. He is very well known today for his discovery of his intact tomb and his stunning gold death mask. The 3,000 year old mystery surrounding the death of Tutankhamen still remain unsolved today likewise if his tomb was cursed or not. This essay will show both sides of the mystery of whether Tutankhamen died from a murder or from natural causes alongside if there is an existence of the curse or not.

The first side of the controversial argument of how Tutankhamen died was that he was murdered. Was the young seventeen year old pharaoh murdered and if so, why? 1968, UK scientist Ronald Harrison re-opened Tutankhamen’s tomb, 46 years after the discovery and took a series of X-rays on Tut’s skull. (Discovery Channel, 2001) The radiographs revealed bone fragment within the lower cranial cavity. This damage most unlikely occurred after Tut’s death, Bob Brier (King Tut One, 2001) states “the blow was to the protected area to the back of the head which you don’t injure in an accident, someone had to sneak up from behind. This discovery led to a speculation that King Tut was murdered. (Datom R, 2001) In 1994, Bob Brier, critically acclaimed Egyptologist said Tutankhamen was murdered by Ay, a high ranking officer.

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The most likely reason for murdering King Tut may be due to the fact that Ay could have been intimidated by Tutankhamen’s high status at a young age or Ay could have been very impatient to be crowned Pharaoh due to the fact that Tutankhamen reigned when he was 9 years old and therefore had decades of years ahead until his death at an elderly age. Science Museum, 2004) In conclusion this evidence is not satisfying enough to deduce a solid theory that Tutankhamen was murdered because the only evidence was an old X-Ray to Tutankhamen’s head. The other side of the controversial argument was Tutankhamen died natural causes. Speculations that Tutankhamen died from natural causes have been more convincing. With every theory there will always be scepticism; scientists are very unconvinced by the theory that Ay murdered Tutankhamen because there is not enough evidence to conclude a solid strong justification.

In 2005, US medics Todd Grey and Richard Boyer re-examined the old x-rays taken in 1968 and revealed new findings. (Science Museum, 2004) The X-rays revealed abnormal curvature on the spine and Tut’s uppermost neck bones were fused. This condition is associated with scoliosis and a rare disorder called Klippel-Feil syndrome. This disorder associated with anomalies of kidneys, heart and nervous system. (Discovery Chanel, 2001) Klippel-Feil syndrome leaves sufferers very fragile with an increase risk of serious injury from a small push or minor fall.

As a falling person hits the ground the brain thrusts forward and hits the front of the skull. (Science Museum, 2004) This explanation would have clearly explained why there was a fragment on the inner cranial cavity of the skull; which rules out the theory that King Tut was murdered. A CT scan in 2005 revealed Tutankhamen had a broken leg and most likely an open flesh wound. (ABC, 2002) Due to the limited knowledge of medicine, successful treatment on the wound would have been improbable.

This had led to speculations that due to long exposure of the untreated wound, an infection produced to a condition called gangrene. (Microsoft(r) Student, 2008) There were 130 walking sticks found at the treasure chamber of Tutankhamen’s burial ground which obviously proved that Tutankhamen needed the walking sticks to provide support on his mobility. (Discovery Channel, 2001) This theory that Tutankhamen died from natural causes seems to be more believable than the theory that Tutankhamen died of a murder. The other mystery of Tutankhamen is whether his tomb was cursed or not.

The theory that a curse has been summoned by Tutankhamen’s tomb has often been treated jokingly and there is more information to support the theory of a curse not existing. A curse is the opposite of a blessing. An assertion of good fortune is a blessing where on the other hand a curse is the assertion of ill fortune. (About, 2001) Before the legendary discovery of Tutankhamen in November 1922, Howard Carter bought a yellow canary in Egypt to bring joyfulness to him when he’s at home with its happy harmonizing. His servant said, “It’s a bird of gold that will bring luck … e’ll find a tomb full of gold” On the next day, Howard Carter discovered a flight of 16 descended steps under the tomb of Ramesses VI (KV9). Howard Carter did not precede into the chamber until Lord Carnarvon the funder, arrived. Lord Carnarvon arrived and novelist Mari Corelli published a warning about deathly consequences of who dares to disturb the tomb. (Dayly H, 2000) Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus was discovered on the 4th of May 1922. The team descended down and set in the burial chamber where gold shrines surrounding them and a sarcophagus in the centre.

An inscription on an Anubis shrine stated, “It is I who hinder the sand from choking the secret chamber. I am for the protection of the deceased. There were around twenty-two people present during the opening of the tomb including Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. (Dayly H, 2000) After the discovery of the tomb, a cobra entered Carter’s house and swallowed the canary; cobras were the protectors of the Pharaoh. (Discovery Channel, 2001) Less than two weeks after the opening of the tomb, Lord Carnarvon received a mosquito bite on his left cheek which came infected after shaving.

The infection then caused blood poisoning named sepsis, his resistance lowered and he died of pneumonia at the age of fifty-seven years; seven weeks after the discovery of the Pharaoh. (Rigby M, 2005) Six people including Lord Carnarvon out of twenty-two people who were at the discovery of Tutankhamen died within a decade; which leave sixteen others who survived more than a decade. (Discovery Channel, 2001) Is this statistic strong enough to conclude that a curse does exist?

The evidence of an existence of a curse is very limited and deduced; the only strong evidence is how Carnarvon died within weeks of the opening of the tomb. The other side of the mystery will explain that there is no actuality of a curse. The theory that a curse did not exist is more favourable amongst scholars because they believe that a curse was written to scare off grave robbers. Before Howard’s team stepped onto the vicinity of Tutankhamen’s tomb, Mari Corelli published a warning in the newspapers of the severe effect upon disturbing the tomb.

When Lord Carnarvon died very shortly after the warning and prediction from Mari Corelli, the printing industry especially newspaper companies, went frantic they immediately and very successfully had the world persuasion of a curse in existence. (Rigby M, 2005) The most famous case of deceitfulness was when a major newspaper published an unauthentic curse, “They who enter this sacred tomb shall swift be visited by wings of death. ” (Dayly H, 2000) This statement convinced countless of readers. The curse should have laid head on Howard Carter but he lived for another 17 years since the discovery and died before his 65th birthday.

Lady Evelyn Herbert, Carnarvon’s daughter died in 1980 at 79 years old. Dr D. E Derry who performed Tut’s autopsy should have metaphorically been 2nd behind Howard Carter on the curse’s ‘hit list’ but he didn’t die until the late 1969. In addition the rest of the people who were at Tutankhamen’s discovery lived to around 65 years old which is the life expectancy. Others believe the capacity of the curse relies in the minds of the person who believes in it. Examples include Howard Carter; he never believed in the curse and died till the life expectancy of 66 years. Discovery Channel, 2001)

The evidence is a lot more persuasive and understanding than the theory that a curse existed, a compelling example is that that the majority of people at present of the opening lived to the life expectancy. The ancient mystery surrounding the death of Tutankhamen still remains unsolved today likewise if his tomb was cursed or not. It was concluded that Tutankhamen died of natural causes; he had Klippel-Feil Syndrome which made sufferers injure more extensively and Tutankhamen died from gangrene from a broken leg that got infected. It was also decided that there was no existence of a curse.

The only evidence that shows a curse did exist was that Lord Carnarvon died within weeks after the opening and after Mari Corelli published to the newspapers, a warning that there will be deathly consequences for those who disturb the tomb. Whereas the theory for that a curse didn’t exist was that 20 out of the 26 people who entered the tomb survived on average till the life expectancy of 65 years. Howard Carter, who the curse should have laid squarely on, lived for decades until his death at 66 years old. In conclusion, it was decided that King Tutankhamen died of natural causes and there was no existence of a curse.

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