The infamous mummy's curse of Tutankhamun's tomb has little
basis in hard science, research has found.
The curse was allegedly placed upon all those present at the
opening of the tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt, in
The legend is thought to have originated with the death of the
expedition financier Lord Carnarvon, who died in 1923 after being
bitten by a mosquito.
He developed a condition known as erysipelas at the site of the
bite, which resulted in septicaemia and pneumonia.
It was said that Lord Carnarvon's three-legged dog howled at the
very time his master died, and promptly also gave up the ghost.
According to the writings of archaeologist Howard Carter, 25
westerners were present at the breach of sacred seals in a
previously undisturbed area of the pharaoh's tomb, and were
therefore potentially exposed to the curse.
A further nineteen were in Egypt at the time but were not
recorded by him to have been present at the site at the relevant
Mark Nelson, of Monash University in Australia, followed up the
personal history of all those present to see if they had indeed died
He established dates of death for all of those exposed and
eleven of those who were not present.
He found that the "cursed" group had lived slightly shorter
lives - but still made it on average to a respectable three score
years and ten.