May 11, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

Egyptologist Says the Mummy's Curse is Real and He Can Scientifically Prove It

Egyptologist Ramy Romany claims he opened a sealed ancient Egyptian tomb in 2019 and was left 'hallucinating', 'coughing up blood' and nearly dying – symptoms he claims are “scientific” proof of the so-called Mummy's Curse. That ‘curse’ has been rumored to exist for centuries and linked to actual deaths of tomb explorers, but has never been proven “scientifically.” Does Romany really have the evidence that will turn this famous fiction to fact?

Three men closely associated with mummies don’t seem to have been cursed by it - Boris Karloff, who starred in the original “The Mummy” movie in 1932; Lon Chaney Jr., who starred in three of the sequels; and Brendan Fraser, who starred in a modern trilogy of mummy films, although not as a mummy. The most famous so-called curse of the mummy predates the original Karloff film by ten years. In November of 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon - George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and financial backer of the expedition - discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, opened the tomb, entered it and eventually spent time inside of the tomb and the unsealed interior burial chamber of the mummified pharaoh. Lord Carnarvon left soon after exploring the tomb and immediately fell ill, dying on April 5, 1923. The rumors of a “Mummy’s Curse” began as soon as he became ill, and his death at age 56 (doctors attributed it to blood poisoning and pneumonia caused by a mosquito bite and infected cut) was soon deemed the first ‘death by mummy’. Four more deaths of people associated with the opening and exploration of Tut’s tomb, including Howard Carter, were loosely attributed to the mummy’s curse and became the inspiration for the movies. Any deaths or illnesses amongst archeologists exploring tombs, whether they contain mummies or not, get linked to the ‘mummy’s curse’ – including ten of 12 conservationists who opened the tomb of 15th century Polish king Casimir IV Jagiellon in 1973 and were dead in the following weeks and months.

Is the curse caused by the mummy or something else within the tomb? 

“While filming, we went into a tomb that hadn't been opened in years. We unlocked the door and the locals kept their distance at first to make sure there were no snakes or curses of any kind. Not believing in curses, we just went straight down the stairs. The tomb seemed endless. We kept going down, and it's quite dusty. And I breathed it all in And that day I was returning on foot to Cairo, and I became unwell.”

That brings us to filmmaker and Egyptologist Ramy Romany. He revealed recently on The Jordan Harbinger Show that he was filming an episode of his “Mummies Unwrapped” series in 2019 at the Amarna archaeological site built by the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, the pharaoh before Tutankhaten. One particular tomb had not been opened in at least 600 years, so that made it a prime candidate for the filmmaker, who entered and began recording what he found.

"There's that ammonia bat urine smell, there's been snakes in there, along with just these very strange smells all going in and your body is telling you 'stop breathing this is not good'... I'm a host on the Discovery Channel, I'm yelling at the camera and being very excited and I'm breathing all this crap in."

After wrapping up for the day, Ramony went back to his quarters where he says he woke up with a fever of 107 F and was coughing up blood and hallucinating. Doctors were called and prescribed antibiotics, even though he said that "None of the doctors really knew what I had.” It took four days for the antibiotics to work, bringing Romany’s temperature back to normal and eliminating the coughing and hallucinations. He later said this was as close to death as he’s ever been in his life.

"The reason that I'm telling you this story is because it is true, the scientific Curse of the Mummy is very true. I just opened a tomb that was closed for only 600 years let alone for the 6,000 years one and I was in a horrible shape the next day. So the curse of the mummies do exist scientifically."

So … Ramy Romany entered an ancient tomb which probably hadn’t been opened in 600 years, breathed in a lot of dust made from dirt, tomb materials, animal and insect feces, chemical reactions, possible human remains and more, and became deathly ill within 24 hours. That is far from a “scientific” proof of a mummy’s curse. For that, we turn to a recent article in The Big Think which takes us back to 1973 and the opening of the tomb of Polish king Casimir IV Jagiellon which appeared to have been directly responsible for the deaths of 10 of the 12 people who entered it. A later inspection of the tomb by microbiologist Bolesław Smyk revealed that it was filled with Aspergillus flavus – a dangerous fungal mold that can cause aspergillosis in humans, a potentially deadly disease that affects the lungs, causes  acute inflammation and breathing problems, and can even can grow in the lungs, spread throughout the body and be fatal to those with weakened immune systems. One study showed that the Aspergillus flavus fungal spores can grow on grains in a tomb or even on the human remains, then lay dormant for hundreds of years while retaining their potency. Researchers in 2003 linked it to Tut’s tomb and the death of Lord Carnarvon.

“On March 17, 1923, The Times of London reported that Lord Carnarvon suffered from ‘pain as the inflammation affected the nasal passages and eyes.’ This description is consistent with invasive Aspergillus sinusitis with local extension to the orbit.”

An illustration of Pulmonary aspergillosis caused by mold fungi Aspergillus.

Lord Carnarvon was in a serious car accident in 1901 and was known to have numerous chest infections – signs of a weakened immune system making him especially vulnerable to the toxic mold – a mold which had not yet been linked to ancient tombs. Now THAT sounds like a scientific proof that a toxic mold can live in ancient mummy tombs and curse those with weakened immune systems to serious illnesses and even death. It’s not much of a movie plot, but it might make Ramy Romany and other tomb explorers and filmmakers think twice about entering without heavy duty masks, breathing devices and other protection.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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