Survive the Curse of King Tut

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Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Sunday, October 3, 2010

Luxor, the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, is often characterized as the world's greatest open air museum. A visit to Egypt would not be complete without a visit to this historical area and while you are there, be sure to check out Karnak Temple, Deir-al-Bahri, the Valley of the Queens and King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple is a large complex comprised of ruined temples, chapels, pylons, a sacred lake and the Great Temple of Amen which was commissioned by the Pharaoh Ramses II. Built near the modern village of el-Karnak, the vast open-air museum is the largest ancient religious site in the world and is the second most visited historical site in Egypt next to the pyramids at Giza.

Visitors enter the complex via the Avenue of Sphinxes, a double line of sphinxes that once connected the Temple of Khonsus at Karnak to the Luxor Temple.  Once inside they are greeted by the Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re – a 50,000 square foot hall area filled with 134 massive, well-preserved columns arranged in 16 rows and ranging in height from 10 meters tall to 21 meters tall. 

Deir al-Bahri

                Deir al-Bahri is a complex of mortuary temples with the most notable being that of Hatshepsut (1508 BC – 1458 BC) – one of the few women pharaohs of ancient Egypt.  After her father died her half-brother became pharaoh and Hatshepsut married him becoming Great Royal Wife then giving birth to a daughter named Neferure.   When her husband Thutmose II died, his heir was not old enough to take the throne so Hatshepsut became the regent of Egypt while her daughter took on the role of queen.  It is believed she ruled Egypt as Pharaoh for 21 years bringing peace and prosperity to the country.

A shaft tomb was discovered at the southern end of the Deir al-Bahri complex containing a cache of forty royal mummies including the mummies of such famous pharaohs as Seti I, Ramesses II and Thutmose I, II and III.  The mummies were placed there by 21st Dynasty priests in an effort to protect them from tomb raiders.

Valley of the Queens

                The Valley of the Queens is where the wives of Pharaohs and their children were buried along with various members of nobility.  This necropolis contains over 70 beautifully decorated tombs.  Queen Nefertari, is the most famous queen in the valley.   She was the principle wife of Ramesses the Great. On the wall of her tomb is a poem written by Ramesses that proves theirs was a marriage of love, not just political convenience:

"My love is unique—no one can rival her, for she is the most beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart."

King Tut’s Tomb

                King Tutankhamun (1341 BC – 1324 BC) rests in the Valley of the Kings in tomb KV62.  King Tut, as he is more commonly known, ascended to the throne at age 8 or 9.  His almost fully intact tomb was discovered in 1922 by famed English archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter. 

It is believed that Carter used an axe to retrieve the gold charms from the mummy leaving it broken into 18 pieces.  He also left Tut outside in the searing heat unprotected for hours; not that good for a mummy. 

It is believed that anyone who disturbs the mummy of a pharaoh will be cursed and die shortly thereafter

After the opening of King Tut’s tomb on November 29th 1922, two subsequent deaths were attributed to the curse.  In 1923, Lord Carnarvon died from an infected mosquito bite and George Gould died of a fever after visiting to the tomb.  Fifty-eight people were at the opening of the tomb and sarcophagus, and of the group, a mere 8 died within 12 years Howard Carter died of cancer in 1939 at age 64 – quite some time after the opening of the tomb.

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