Over the next several years, a series of people associated with the Tut excavation died unexpectedly, often under mysterious circumstances. The dead in 1923 alone included Lord Carnarvon’s brother, Col. Aubrey Herbert; Cairo archaeologist Achmed Kamal, and American Egyptologist William Henry Goodyear.
Lord Carnarvon himself headed the tragic list. On his deathbed he was heard to pronounce several times over the name of Tut Ankh Amon. Hid last words were: “It is over, I have heard the call, I am ready.” At that moment, coincidentally, of course, the lights went out throughout the house. No name has ever been given to the disease from which. Lord Carnarvon died; doctors have gone so far as to say he died from a mosquito bite.
Oxford archeologist Hugh Evelyn-White, who had dug in the necropolis at Thebes, also died in 1924. His end was even more tragic. He was after Carter one of the first to enter the mortuary chamber, where the mummy of the pharaoh was found. He hung himself. In order to explain this desperate act, he wrote in a letter: “I have succumbed to a curse which forces me to disappear.
The private secretary of Howard Carter, Richard Bethell, was one of the first to enter the tomb: he was also one of the first to die.
Another English scientist, employed of the Egyptian government, Archibald Douglas Reed, was in charge taking x-rays of the mummy before it was removed to the Museum of Cairo. The day after he took the x-rays, Reed became ill, three days later he was dead. Here was a healthy man, of robust constitution; no one knows the name of the malady, which swept him away.
Edouard Neville, Carter’s teacher, as well as George Jay-Gould, Carnarvon’s friend, papyrus expert Bernard Greenfell, American Egyptologist Aaron Ember, and the nurse who attended to Lord Carnarvon all died in 1926. Ember’s death was particularly spooky—he was attempting to rescue from his burning house a manuscript he had worked on for years: The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
In 1929 Lord Carnarvon’s wife, Lady Almina, died, as did John Maxwell, the Earl’s friend and executor, and Carter’s secretary, Richard Bethell, who was found dead in bed, apparently from circulatory failure, at the age of 35.
Six months later, his younger brother, Colonel Aubrey Herbert, died, once again from an unexplained sickness, then the nurse who had taken care of him succumbed….
A close friend of Carter, professor La Fleur, pushed by scientific curiosity, went to Luxor to help in the work. Two weeks after his arrival he too came down with the mysterious sickness and died. Arthur Mace, who, after having entered the secret chambers, felt himself grow weak; he was confined to bed,
and soon died in his turn.
These mysterious deaths intrigue public opinion. A high government employee in Egypt wanted to clear up matters and decided to personally undertake an investigation. He came to the tomb and started his investigations. After a few days he fell ill, and had to return to Cairo for treatment; a few hours later, he was dead.