'Curse of the pharaohs': Opening of ancient sarcophagus raises intrigue, concerns
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2018 11:16AM EDT
Egyptologists are preparing to open a recently discovered 2,000-year-old sarcophagus, but people online are worried the move might bring on a Hollywood blockbuster-level reckoning.
On July 1, Egypt’s ministry of antiquities announced they found a black granite sarcophagus five metres underground in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, about 220 kilometres northwest of Cairo. Construction workers found the tomb while digging the foundation for a proposed building project in the city.
The sarcophagus is nearly two metres high, nearly three metres long and weighs an estimated 50 tonnes. Nearby, the ministry also found a sculpture of a head that they believe represents whoever’s body is inside.
Officials say the sarcophagus appears to have sat undisturbed for more than 2,000 years, but are now working to open it.
Engineers have been brought in to lift the sarcophagus lid. Once opened, mummification experts will work to ensure the contents are preserved.
“When we open the sarcophagus, we hope to find objects inside that are intact, which will help us to identify this person and their position,” Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, the head of ancient Egyptian artifacts at the Egypt’s ministry of antiquities, told The Guardian.
Since the sarcophagus’ discovery, speculation has run rampant about whose body might be inside. All indications are it belongs to a wealthy person, and perhaps even Alexander the Great, who founded Alexandria in 331 BC and died eight years later. His tomb has yet to be found.
The ministry of antiquities has said they believe the sarcophagus comes from the Ptolemaic period, which began following Alexander the Great’s death.
Regardless, the sarcophagus has the potential to answer questions about what Egyptian life was like more than 2,000 years ago, but online, some people are worried about what might be coming our way once it’s opened.
“The start of every horror and dark fantasy movie about Egypt since the beginning of cinema history. This should go well,” said Twitter user Jon Davis.
Another Twitter user simply stated: “We’re gonna die,” with some emoticons.
These users might have reason to be concerned. The “curse of the pharaohs” is a term referring to an alleged curse believed to be cast upon anyone who disturbs an ancient Egyptian mummy.
In the 10 years that followed the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, 10 people who had at least visited the site died under sometimes mysterious circumstances, including several members of lead researcher Howard Carter's team. Carter died in 1939 and some consider his death to also be part of King Tut's curse.
Curses involving ancient Egyptian tombs and artifacts have also been the source of several Hollywood movies.
Despite being on the verge of a supposed curse, other social media users are too intrigued to worry about the apparent risks.
“I realize that by saying this I am dooming myself to be among the first victims of whatever ancient beast emerges from it, but I don't buy the idea that there's anything in that sarcophagus other than a very old mummy. OF COURSE they should open it,” Mike Madden tweeted.
“Being eviscerated by an ancient spectral force would make more sense than most things that happen on a daily basis,” said Brendon Bigley. “I say open it up.”