This paper will focus primarily on the curses of the Egyptian Pyramids and how popular belief suggests that at the heart of Egyptian pyramids lies an ancient curse that kills anyone who attempts to steal the buried and concealed wealth of past pharaohs. It will propose based on the work of Meskell and other literature on Egypt, that perceptions of the mummy’s curse in conjunction with the ancient Egyptian beliefs of the afterlife may not be anything more than an attempt by society to explain death and its origins. Misperceptions about death are a common phenomenon and religion has been claimed as a means of connecting current society with the idea of death and what happens thereafter (Meskell, 2001). It is particularly pertinent to this thesis that the history of the pyramids and of the mummy’s curse be examined in order to identify similarities in the perception of death and the lack of proof for both the afterlife and the mummy’s curse.
For thousands of years, archeologists have endeavored to unravel the mystery of the Egyptian pyramids and ideologies relating to the tombs and history of mummies and the reign of Pharaohs in Egypt. An iconic part of Egypt is the multitude of impressive pyramids, each resembling the notoriety and class of Pharaohs as well as the specific socio-economical requirements and pressures pertaining to particular periods throughout Egyptian history. As proposed by Meskell, archaeologists have focused for years on the deaths of pharaohs and how Egyptian society had previously commiserated the death of their leaders (Meskell, 2001). The afterlife is a popular belief amongst Egyptians and was actively incorporated into the lives of Pharaohs with elaborate pyramids being built to firstly honor the reign of each pharaoh and secondly, to aide with their transition into the supposed afterlife (Meskell, 2001).
Contrary to the beliefs of Egyptians about the afterlife, Meskell looks further at how these popular beliefs and rich history most likely relate to the Curse of the Mummy and how archaeologists who delve into these pyramids in search of historical answers, suddenly fall ill with mysterious diseases that can never be diagnosed or quickly treated. Meskell interrelates the beliefs of death from Egyptian society to the beliefs of the “Mummy’s curse” in current 20th and 21st century society (Meskell, 2001).
In further researching Meskell’s attempt to interrelate both concenpts, it can be acknowledged that our perceptions of death whether it be based back in the ancient times of Egypt and the reign of pharaohs or on the mummy’s curse, may be misguided and in fact, the result of social influences and views on death. For example, the famous discovery of King Tut, which was excavated in 1922 sparked particular debate about whether the pharaoh had entered the afterlife when considering that their belongings still remained in the tomb. It also questioned the death of Lord Carnavon, the primary expedition sponsor. An alarming fact was that society quickly determined that a curse must have killed Lord Carnavon as he was healthy at the time and had no ailments. It was later found that Lord Carnavon had died of blood poisoning. Only 6 of the 26 members of Carnavon’s expedition died within a decade of his death, providing unconvincing support for the existence of a curse. This further questions the legitimacy of a mummy’s curse and whether it has any relation to the attempts of pharaoh’s in facilitating their transition into the afterlife after death within pyramids (Meskell, 2001).
In providing further support for this proposal and thesis, it must be considered whether perceptions of death and what happens after it will ever be determined considering that beliefs such as the mummy’s curse and the afterlife have been convincingly proven beyond reasonable doubt and will continue to cause particular controversy amongst society until further evidence comes to light.
- Meskell, L. (2001). The Egyptian Ways of Death. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/ap3a.2001.10.1.27/abstract Accessed on 19 July 2015.