What does a Pharaoh’s tomb have to do with the insanity of 2020? Trust me, I will explain, let’s go over the facts. British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb virtually undisturbed in late 1922. This was unheard of at the time; grave robbers had ransacked all known previously discovered tombs. Carter’s discovery created a worldwide press sensation. Stories quickly spread about a curse on anyone who dared to break into the pharaoh’s tomb. Not long after these rumors spread, Lord Carnarvon, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, an amateur Egyptologist who was financing the project, died in Cairo at the age of 56. At the same time the city’s lights went out which set off a frenzy to encourage a truth behind the curse. Despite a lack of evidence of there being a rumored curse on the Pharaoh’s tomb, it is believed that a curse was created to discourage graverobbers. Though, curse or not, bad fortune came to eight of the fifty-eight members of Carter’s team. While most of the crew went on to live long healthy lives, some believe the disease that Carter came down with towards the end of his days was a curse on him from the Pharaoh. Carter called it ‘tommy rot’ which is slang for nonsense or rubbish but others believe that the unfortunate archaeologists released a type of disease when the tomb was opened. https://www.historytoday.com/archive/months-past/tutankhamuns-curse
Why am I bringing up a mystery decades old that can now be explained with modern science? There are still many that wonder what is true, I have always been a believer in most things supernatural but I will always follow concrete evidence. I don’t believe you can completely ignore the possibility of supernatural but you should look for proof. Question everything. Although scientists are adamant about there not being a curse, that hasn’t stopped legends and rumors, many of which are still believed to this day. So from this point on I ask you what is different between fact and legend, after all, the two can often coincide. In September of 2019, a mystery box from Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened for the first time on film. Had it been opened before? Maybe, it is unknown and either hasn’t been documented or just simply not been released information to the public. But on Channel 5’s “Egypt’s Greatest Treasures” historian Bethany Hughes had a chance to see this box and have it opened for her as she met with Dr. Essa Zidan.
It was an item in Carter’s original photographs, this enigmatic box, but it is now known this treasure didn’t belong to the pharaoh. It belonged to Tutankhamun’s wife and it is the only artifact of hers that exists, more there is very little information, other than it was an empty and believed to be a linen chest. But why was it in her husband’s tomb? I wonder if Pharaoh Tutankhamun feared that his wife would be wiped from history, like most female rulers, which can ruin a chance of staying/entering the underworld in Eygptian mythology. After all, look at what happened to Nefertiti. A pharaoh after her tried to tear down and destroy all the land makers of her. She was all but forgotten until recent rediscoveries. I suppose this is a mystery that may have been washed away in the Egyptian dessert. Hughes asked Dr. Zidan if they could open it, saying it looks like a linen chest and, to her surprise, Dr. Zidan said yes. “This is a box that has never been filmed before or opened and the doctor just offered to open it for us,” said Hughes. There was nothing to be found in the box, but Dr. Zidan said, “You can smell the history coming out of it.”
This happened not too long before the year changed to 2020. Now, there are many who think that this box is like Pandora’s box, in the conspiracy theory and spiritual communities. For me, when I learned about this I immediately thought, oh no, we are screwed. I wonder about whether there are curses or not because I know I would not want my grave disturbed even in the pursuit of knowledge. So do I think we may have released something when the box was open? Maybe, but I doubt it would be anything worse than moving a body from it’s eternal resting place. That, in my opinion, is the worst sacrilege but is it necessary? I suppose so, after all most of what we have learned comes from tombs. Though there are many who believe when the box was opened the plague (COVID-19) was released and locust swarmed. After all, there were warnings about COVID-19 as early as New Year’s Eve in Wuhan.
For a quick and dirty explanation of the myth of Pandora’s box. After Prometheus stole fire from the heavens, Zeus, the king of the gods and the heavens, took vengeance on Prometheus by creating a beautiful woman named Pandora and offered her to him. He denied her knowing the gods wanted revenge so she was presented to his brother, Epimetheus, who was thought not to be very bright. He saw her beauty and thought no harm could come of it so he accepted. She was given a jar (yes, it was originally a jar or pithos, https://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/pandoras-box-myth/) which was a type of jar for large provisions of wine, oil, or grain. She was given it to guard and told never to open it but curiosity won out and she released on the world sickness, death, and many other unknown evils. When she opened it, she quickly closed the container which left only hope trapped inside. So if this box is like Pandora’s box I wonder if that means the box needs to be opened one more time to release hope or maybe a cursed box caring a plague is where the similarity to the Greek myth ends.
If the original theory of the tomb’s curse is true, then would it really be a surprise if there was a cursed box? Why not? I know, I’m superstitious but I think with the world being up leveled by a pandemic, it makes it easier to blame a cursed box instead of looking for the real cause and reason. I can’t help but wonder if COVID-19 is Mother Nature’s cruel way of showing us how the earth would heal without us. Disease often never has a known cause. Maybe, even after hundreds of years we aren’t that different from the ancients that believed natural disasters were caused by the wrath of the gods. After all, it is terrifying how there is sometimes just isn’t answer and it is easier and more comforting to trust that a high power knows and has a plan. Maybe, it’s human instinct to look for someone or something to blame instead of accepting sometimes bad things just happen. It’s not easy to just accept that sometimes things just happen; humans almost always have a reason behind their actions, why not the world. Even if we are creatures of science now we can only find where the virus came from but not the cause but religion and superstitions can.
Faith Escoe is currently a student at Antioch University aiming for her Masters in Creative Writing. She graduated with her Bachelors in Creative Writing from Full Sail when she was twenty. She enjoys studying mythology and aims to learn two new languages in the next two years. She also spent a semester abroad in Paros, Greece at the Aegean Center. Her love for travel has lead to her focus on learning new languages. She hopes to return to her beloved island in the Aegean Sea after she graduates with her Masters.