Fact or Fiction: The Curse of King Tut

The legend of the curse of King Tut has been whispered for decades. ABC7's Christian Spencer sat down with Dr. Zahi Hawass to find out if Howard Carter ignored warnings on the seal of the tomb.

"I don't think there is a curse. It's just accident happen," Dr. Hawass said.


Although, the Doctor does believe the effects of the curse really happened.

"If you close this room for 3000 years and there is mummy here, the mummy will make germs that you cannot see. Archaeologists, when they enter quickly, the germs can hit them," he explained. "I, when I discover a tomb with mummy, I leave the tomb be open for one day until the bad air will go out and the fresh air will go in. And, I never excavate. When you excavate, this is open for the germs to hit you."

Dr. Hawass thinks the curse of the pharaohs was created after the tomb of King Tut was discovered. He explained that Lord C gave the exclusive only to the London Times. Having nothing to write about, the other newspapers focused on things written in front of the Anubis shrine that said anyone who entered the tomb would be killed.

"That was not true," Dr. Hawass said. "But I want to tell you first, the, my story with the mummy of King Tut."

Dr. Hawass explained that he had never seen King Tut's mummy before, although it had been previously studied three times, once by Howard Carter in 1925, once by an Englishman, and once by Harrison from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Hawass said the three researchers never agreed on anything, each one thinking the king died at a different age. He said, "Some of them thought that King Tut was murdered because there was a hole in the back of the head that made them to think that was murdered."

"When I entered in the burial chamber and I took the golden coffin… This is the third one the top mummy," he recalled. "And I did take the case out. And, I had maybe the best moment in my life."

Q: What was so special about that moment?

A: Meeting King Tut face to face. Looking at his face I felt for the first time that my heart was trembling. I have never had a moment like this in my life. Meeting the golden king was incredible. But, the interesting thing that we began to take the mummy out of the tomb for the first time to the CAT scan machine outside, and in the first minute when we put the mummy in the machine, the machine was stopped. And, I will to tell you, that was the first time in my life to think there could be something could be called the curse of Tutankhamun. Why the machine stopped? After one hour the machine did work and we took 1700 photos. We found out that King Tut died in the age of 19 and was not murdered because that hole in the back of the head actually was happened during Dynasty 18, to put the liquid for mummification. But, we found this fracture. It's an accident happened one day before he died and we think that he died because of this.

The second moment, that when I examined the mummy three years ago, and I found there is only good thing about this mummy is actually the face. The other part completely damaged by Howard Carter, who when he tried to take the golden mask out, he couldn't. He brought tools and he put the tools in fire and he damaged the mummy completely. The only good thing is this face. When I look at this face now, look at his buck teeth.

The second time was a year ago. I decided to save this mummy because of the breathing of the people and the dust in the sarcophagus inside. Then, I came with my team and I took the mummy out of the sarcophagus. And, I did design this show case in Germany that completely controls the equipment to control humidity and heat. And, I brought the mummy with my hand as a baby and I put it here. For the first time, the tourists when they come in, they can look at the mummy. But, I will not, I cannot believe the amount of the media who came in that day, was incredible really, actually. And, the third time that they came to look at this mummy and work with this mummy was when I came to take samples for DNA for the first time, because, we are identifying the family of King Tut now.

Q: Do you think you will find any other tombs so completely intact as Tut's tomb was?

A: I hope so. But, you know, archaeology is completely luck. You cannot really be sure of anything. But actually, I want to end my career as an archaeologist excavating in the Valley of the Kings and live in the Valley of the Kings. This really what I'm planning. And I can smell (sniffs). I can smell there is something coming soon.

Resources and exhibit information:

>> The Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs Exhibit
The de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
Opens June 27, 2009 and runs through March, 2010
Tickets & info: http://www.famsf.org/deyoung

>> King Tutankhamun and the work of Dr. Zahi Hawass: http://www.drhawass.com

>> The King Tut exhibit and its return to San Francisco: http://tutsanfrancisco.org

>> Timeline of events in Ancient Egypt

>> Suggested reading: The Discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter and A.C. Mace
>> Buy the book on Amazon


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