Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mummy's curse unwrapped

Source: The Scotsman


ON 26 November 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter broke through the sealed wall of a miraculously undisturbed pharaonic tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings and was struck dumb for several minutes by the riches within.

"Can you see anything?" Carter's sponsor, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon, eventually blurted, unable to bear the suspense. "Yes," Carter whispered. "Wonderful things."

In fact, the gilded couches and animal sculptures glinting in the antechamber represented a mere fraction of the riches buried with the boy king Tutankhamun, whose mummified body, complete with the dazzling gold and lapis-lazuli death mask, was finally revealed two years later. By then Lord Carnarvon, two of his relatives, and several others involved in the dig were dead, giving rise to rumours of a mummy's curse on the families of those who had opened the tomb.

As archaeologists in Luxor this weekend revealed the face behind the golden death mask and London prepares for new exhibition of Tutankhamun artefacts, I have come the library of the Carnarvon family seat, Highclere Castle in Berkshire, to talk to the eighth earl, Geordie Herbert, about his ancestor's discovery.

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