Tuesday, April 18, 2006

curse of the mummy

Mummy’s are back: King Tut’s coming to the Field Museum this Summer, and the Met in NY is putting on a show about Hatshepsut, the Queenly Pharaoh who met with such unkindness after her death.

Attended a lecture recently about the original dig that unearthed Tut, and mention was made of the fondness of the modern imagination for Mummy’s curses – which reminded me of one of the most entertaining footnotes I’ve ever come across:
In 1910, the British Egyptologist Douglass Murray is said to have been among the next to feel the curse [of Queen Hatshepsut]. An American treasure hunter approached him in Cairo, offering for sale one of several portions of Hatshepsut's multilayered mummy case. The American died before he could cash Murray's check. Three days later, Murray's gun exploded, blowing off most of his right hand. What remained turned gangrenous, requiring amputation of the entire arm at the elbow.

En route to England with the sarcophagus, he received word via wireless telegraph that two of his closest friends and two of his servants had died suddenly. Upon arrival in England, he began to feel superstitious, and left Hatshepsut's case in the house of a girlfriend who had taken a fancy to it. The girlfriend soon came down with a mysterious wasting disease. Then her mother died suddenly. Her lawyer delivered the sarcophagus back to Murray, who promptly unloaded it on the British Museum.

The British Museum already had more sarcophagi than it needed. Not so, the American Museum of Natural History in New York; so a trade was arranged for Montana dinosaur bones. Before the deal was complete, the British Museum's director of Egyptology and his photographer were dead. Queen Hatshepsut was beginning to lose her charm.

The curators loaded the sarcophagus into a crate and saw it lowered into the hold of a ship. And on April 10, 1912, the ship sailed -- Southampton to New York. Hatshepsut departed for America on the Titanic.
Published in Charles Pellegrino’s Unearthing Atlantis in 1991, there’s not one good reason to believe that any of this is true. But doesn’t it make for a fun read?

1 comment:

opiliones said...

excellent story - true or not ;)

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