Remember the film The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb? That classic piece of Hammer Horror kitsch from 1964 where British archeologists disturbed the mummy’s resting place and angered the slumbering Prince Ra. Needless to say, the mummy was not about to allow his tomb to be violated and soon sought revenge, lumbering about, killing without mercy, and swathed in suspiciously clean bandages considering he had been dead and embalmed for the past few thousand years.
Fiction, right? Of course it is, but behind every myth or legend there is so often a grain of truth. Leaving aside the most famous of them all – the alleged curse of Tutankhamen’s tomb – there are in fact some lesser known real examples of deceased pharaohs and high ranking officials determined that all that is buried with them shall stay with them.
During the 18th dynasty (c. 1542-1292 BCE) a highly influential scribe and public official, who later went onto have his own mortuary temple at Thebes (now Luxor), Amenhotep, son of Hapu, left a pretty graphic curse. He warned any tomb violator that they would:
“Lose their earthly positions and honours, be incinerated in a furnace in execration rites, capsize and drown at sea, have no successors, receive no tomb or funerary offerings of their own, and their bodies would decay because they will starve without sustenance and their bones will perish”.
Pretty strong stuff and if you think that’s bad, just read what Sarenput I, a senior provincial governor during the 12th Dynasty (c1991-1778 BCE), had in store for anyone who dared to interfere with any offerings left to his statue:
“…his arm shall be cut off like that of this bull, his neck shall be twisted off like that of a bird, his office shall not exist, the position of his son shall not exist, his house shall not exist in Nubia, his tomb shall not exist in the necropolis, his god shall not accept his white bread, his flesh shall belong to the fire, his children shall belong to the fire, his corpse shall not be to the ground, I shall be against him as a crocodile on the water, as a serpent on earth, and as an enemy in the necropolis.”
Did the curses prevent desecration or theft? In these two cases, the jury is out. The exact location of Amenhotep’s tomb is unknown – although bits of his sarcophagus have been found which suggests that he did not get to spend eternity if peaceful slumber. It does not appear Sarenput I fared much better. His tomb is at Qubbet el-Hawa and has suffered considerable damage. Quite what happened to the perpetrators of any violation is unrecorded.
So far, I have mentioned merely the written curse but the Egyptians were nothing if not creative. They laid booby traps that, even to this day could cause injury or even death to the unwary. One of the most famous contemporary Egyptologists is Dr. Zahi Hawass. He had a potentially fatal experience in 2001 when entering the Bahariya Oasis tomb. They located the sarcophagus but then found the ancient Egyptian engineers had covered the floors and walls in eight inches of haematite powder which, if inhaled in any quantity, can cause a slow and painful death. Hawass and his team beat a hasty retreat, only returning when they were suitable covered in Hazmat suits and respirators.
Other favourite booby trap devices are reminiscent of Indiana Jones, with massive stones ready to release when a sealed tomb is breeched. Traps were laid, corridors were blocked with massive stone slabs, deep holes were cut – put one foot wrong and it would be the last step you ever took.
So, whether you believe in the supernatural power of the mummy’s curse or not, there is no denying that these ingenious engineers of the distant past worked long and hard to try and ensure that no good would ever come to anyone who dared violate the place of the dead. For some, the power of the mummy’s curse is a firmly held belief. As for me? I keep an open mind. You see and hear strange things when you visit a tomb in the Valley of the Kings alone…
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Wrath Of The Ancients
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
(with thanks to Bryan Hill and ancient-origins.net. Read more about Tomb Curses of Ancient Egypt: : Ancient-origins.net)