The Mummy’s Curse

King Tutankhamun was a pharaoh in the late years of ancient Egypt, in 1346 BC. He inherited the throne at 10 years old and lived until he was 19, which was considered normal for ancient Egyptians.

There are different ideas about how he died but some people think he was murdered by two servants for his power!

King Tut was buried in the Valley of the Kings – a burial site for pharaohs next to the Nile.

His tomb was found by the British archaeologist Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon (who paid for the work) in 1922. Carter and Carnarvon wanted to find out about how people lived in ancient Egyptian times.

Because the tomb was so well hidden, it took Carter five years to find it! Eventually, it was found under the mud brick houses of the builders for the pharaoh Rameses VI’s tomb.

Carter sent a telegram to Carnarvon telling him what he had found, so Carnarvon sailed from England to the burial site and they opened up the tomb.

The archaeologists found several different rooms in the tomb which had been previously searched by grave robbers. However, these rooms still stored lots of precious goods and important information on life in ancient Egypt.

One room was of particular interest – the burial room. This room contained King Tut’s body. On the outside, written in hieroglyphics, was the message “Death Shall Come on Swift Wings to Him Who Disturbs the Peace of the King.”

The ancient Egyptians believed that damaging or disturbing the mummy of the dead would prevent their soul from returning to their body and so they would not be able to reach the afterlife.

Therefore, they wrote curses and spells on their tombs to scare away grave robbers. In King Tut’s case, once the tomb was opened, many strange things occurred.

  • Lord Carnavon got bitten by a mosquito and fell ill dying a month after the excavation of blood poisoning. The bite mark was said also be on King Tut’s face.
  • Carnavon’s dog died at the same time he did.
  • At the moment Carnavon died, all the electricity went out in Cairo.
  • A cobra, which was the sign of upper Egypt, ate Carter’s pet canary in his house.
  • Vultures, which were the sign of lower Egypt, circled around the archaeologists for the whole day the tomb was opened.

With all this happening, it’s no wonder some people thought that King Tut wanted revenge and so called it the mummy’s curse!

It’s now known that illnesses are linked to opening ancient tombs. The tombs often contain poisonous plant moulds which have grown over thousands of years and toxic gases which have built up in the closed space. Archaeologists now always wear masks when exploring the tombs to protect themselves from the dangers of the toxins and the curse.

Facts about The Mummy’s Curse

  • King Tutenkhamun was a pharaoh from when he was 10 years old.
  • Howard Carter and Lord Carnavon discovered King Tut’s tomb in 1922.
  • The tomb was hidden under houses of the workmen who built Rameses VI’s tomb.
  • Tutenkhamun’s tomb had been raided by grave robbers years before it was discovered again.
  • The tomb had the inscription “death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the king” to scare off robbers.
  • The ancient Egyptians thought disturbing a mummy would prevent the soul reaching the afterlife.
  • People thought that the curse was real because many disasters happened after the tomb was opened.
  • Archaeologists wear masks now to stop inhaling toxic fumes from tombs.


  • Where was King Tutenkhamun buried?
    In the Valley of the Kings, under the houses of builders of Rameses VI’s tomb.
  • What was inside the tomb?
    Lots of wealth, gifts, and a curse over King Tut’s coffin.
  • Why did people believe in a curse?
    There were many disasters after the tomb was opened, including the deaths of Lord Carnavon, his dog and Carter’s canary.
  • What actually caused Lord Carnavon’s death?
    Carnavon was bitten by a mosquito and the cut got infected. There were also toxic fumes and moulds in the tomb.