The container vessel which has been blocking the Suez Canal for nearly a week (as of this writing) has the ship’s owners and customers, other ships and consumers around the world feeling cursed. Egyptians know about curses and they’re feeling the same way, but the blame for the curse on the Suez Canal is not being placed on the weather, poor navigation or greed, but on a museum. Twenty-two royal mummies are scheduled to be moved on April 3rd from their current location at Downtown Cairo’s Egyptian Museum to their new permanent display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat and some are wondering if the blockage, as well as numerous other recent disastrous incidents are the result of a pharaoh’s curse.
“The procession of the royal mummies [during their relocation] is the biggest publicity for Egypt. The eyes of the whole world will be fixed on Egypt amid great respect during the transport of the mummies that will take 40 minutes.”
Gulf News reports that archaeologist and for Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass delivered a strong curse denial on Egyptian TV. Of course, it’s a big deal for Egypt – tourism is one of its top revenue generators. However, resentment over mummies being removed from their tombs, not to mention all of those removed from Egypt and scattered around the world, is strong, as is belief in a pharaoh’s curse. Or, in this case, the curse of many pharaohs.
“The mummies include those of kings Ramses II, Seti I, Seqnenre, and Tuthmoses III, as well as queens Hatshepsut, Meritamun, the wife of King Amenhotep I, and Ahmose Nefertari, the wife of King Ahmose.”
Moving that kind of pharaoh power from their last places of rest could cause a lot of curses – and Arab News, as well as many on social media, compiled a list of recent disasters that could be curse-related, starting with a tragic train collision near the southern city of Sohag that killed at least 32 people and left 165 or more injured. On the following day, a 10-story building collapsed in Cairo’s Gesr Suez district killing at least 25 people, injuring at least 75 and leaving scores homeless. Then a fire broke out at shops adjunct to Zagazig railway station in Lower Egypt (no deaths but much damage, another fire has put out inside the Al-Azhar tunnel, an under-construction bridge column collapsed in Mariota, a fire inside a house in Minya, a fire in the Maadi Tower … the list goes on. Those disasters, plus the canal blockage by the Ever Given ship, occurred in just a few days … and just a few days from the big mummy move. Coincidence … or curse?
“Death shall come on swift wings to him that toucheth the tomb of the pharaoh.”
That’s one of the versions of the curse of King Tut’s tomb, perhaps the most famous but not necessarily the most powerful or feared. Multiply even minor curses by 22 and you have something that people connecting disaster dots can easily link to. However, just as has been the case for centuries when it comes to Egyptian antiquities, money talks and curses walk (new saying – patent pending) so the mummies will be walked farther away from their tombs to be stared at by the fee-paying masses so the Egyptian government can compensate for past lost revenues as well as the massive amount yet to be tallied as a result of the current canal crisis.
Sadly, even if all of the pharaohs could be returned, we would still be cursed by greed and money. When it comes to Egypt, there are many forms of curses … and many kinds of “death”.