The preservation problem with the treasures of the Egyptian pharaohs with which they were sent to the afterlife had disturbed even the builders of the pyramids. They were making clever trap systems, false tunnels, chambers, and tombs against possible thieves. However, they relied mostly on the powerful force of spells.
Medieval Arab historians give us a description on the magical “pyramid guardians”. For example, one of the tombs had a hidden statue, in its forehead there was a snake that attacked anyone who got close to it. Another pyramid was guarded by colossus carved from white and black onyx, with a spear in its hand. In case there was an uninvited guest, the statue spreads a dull rumble and the intruder falls stricken. And another one was guarded by a stone warden with unbelievable power that decimated the person’s legs and killed him.
Besides statues, ghosts also guarded the pyramids. The ancient Egyptian sources mention scantily the “tombs ruler”. In one case, the ghost obtained the form of a young man with long, yellow teeth and yellow skin, another time it was a naked woman with eerie beauty that seduced the thieves and killed them with her charm. The ghost of the pyramids was seen also in the shape of an old man who walked around the tomb swinging a church lamp.
“The ghost of the past haunts the Death Valley…”, was probably the warning that the English explorer James Brooke remembered when one night in 1768, in the Valley of Kings, he was consumed by fear. Brooke started running but only when he saw the waters of Nile that he was able to sigh with relief. However, when he got to his boat and started paddling, he felt like he was back from the death.
The Europeans found out about the tombs’ special spells at the end of the 19th century, when most of the ancient Egyptian texts were deciphered. Then they did not seem significant until researchers remembered about “the pharaohs’ curse” in connection to the tomb of Tutankhamun.
When archeologists opened it, they saw two black statues with golden heads next to the king’s sealed door. Their appearance resembled the old Arabic descriptions of the magical “Pyramid guardians”.
After they opened the tomb, there was a series of bizarre deaths.
In the late 50s, there was a hypothesis, which suggested that the cause of the mysterious deaths is the virus histoplasmosis, contained in the feces of bats that were in Tutankhamun’s tomb. However, this theory was quickly debunked. Bats could not just get inside the tomb because, simply, there was no way in.
(As the facts are pointing out the hype about Tutankhamun’s curse is just a … hype. Yes, there were deaths in the expeditions but they were completely normal and long after the opening of the tomb. Some people perished after 20 years from diseases and old age.)
However, cases of “pharaoh’s revenge” were mentioned long before the Tutankhamun’s story. For example, B. Henderson, a doctor in the East India Company, stole two mummies in 1908 in Thebes and a year after that he went insane. The Swede, F. Lidman, who traveled a lot around Egypt, gathered a huge collection of stolen tomb objects. But his collection suddenly burned down on the way to Europe in a warehouse near Constantinople.
Bizarre stories happened to ordinary thieves who, at their own risk, got in the tombs. For many years, looters have lived a “barrowed life”, searching for treasures in the underground tombs. A dark spirit has hovered over Abusir, a vast dessert plateau, over which there are more than 5000 ancient tombs.
For almost half a century, the depths of this cemetery are like a true El Dorado for scientists and looters. But in the very beginning of excavations a researcher was buried inside one of the tombs when a pile of dirt suddenly crumbled upon him. There were other accidents after the first one. Several people got suffocated in the underground tunnels.
One of the last victims of “the pharaohs’ curse” was an Egyptian archaeologist, Mohamed Goname. In 1952-1954 he made a number of important discoveries. For example, he opened and examined pharaoh Sekhemkhet’s pyramid, a son and heir to Djoser. While archaeologists were clearing the underground tunnel, one of the stone blocks suddenly collapsed and buried one of the workers. And in 1957, Goname aslo died tragically.
Four millenniums ago a massage from a pharaoh said: “Do not destroy the tombs, do not destroy them. This is how I have proceeded and God will judge me by my actions…”
So, does the phenomenon „curse of the pharaohs” exist? There is no definite answer. Indisputably, a lot of what happened with looters and researchers could be considered as coincidence, accidents, or strange circumstances. But there seem to be way too many coincidences.