You’ll Never Believe How King Tut’s “Cursed” Items Wound Up In Idaho
"Death will slay with his wings whoever disturbs the peace of the Pharoah."
According to legend, that quote came from a tablet discovered as archeologist Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the Egyptian tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. The two men didn't heed that warning. Many believe a curse followed them and many more who came in contact with the contents of their discovery.
The story goes that Lord Carnarvon was bitten by a mosquito upon entering the tomb, and from that wound, he dies just six weeks later. His dog in England died simultaneously after letting out a painful howl, and as he dropped dead, the lights of his hotel in Cairo all went out.
Many more of Howard Carter's friends and associates also suffered from the curse. Even his pet canary bird wasn't exempt. It was killed by a cobra! Carter eventually died from lymphoma sixteen years later. Was Carter's death the end of King Tut's curse? Some thought so, but others strongly disagree to this very day. That is how this story took an Idaho turn.
83 years after the tomb of King Tut was opened in Egypt, Rod Hansen was going about his day. Rod works as the Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of Idaho. At the time, the traveling exhibit, "King Tut: Treasures of the Tomb," was on display. His phone rang and on the other end of the line was a clearly frazzled man who wanted to donate some items to the museum.
I asked Rod about this conversation, and he told me that it's one he'll never forget. The man explained to Rod that his grandfather was a successful businessman at the expedition time. He was friendly with Lord Carnarvon and even contributed to the project's finances. As a thank you, he was flown to Cairo as a VIP and, upon returning to the United States, was given two small statues that were said to be from King Tut's tomb.
The statues were among the man's prized possessions, but it didn't take long for the Pharaoh's Curse to show itself. The Great Depression wiped out the man's business and his real estate properties. Even after three failed marriages, he never connected the turn of bad luck to the statues. Later, while on his death bed, he willed them to his unborn grandson, thinking they potentially have astronomical value.
Rod Hansen went on to tell me that the grandson wasn't just an ordinary guy. He is a three-time Olympian, a collegiate national champion, and a businessman. He didn't take possession of the statues until 1996. That's when everything changed for him.
According to Rod, "he went through a series of bad events. He had several accidents both as an athlete and as a driver. He had several failed business ventures." That led to him making the call to the Museum of Idaho. He thought that his statues could join the exhibit of other items from King Tut's tomb.
Rod was cynical. Could this story be true? He agreed to take possession of the items because, as he put it, "When someone offers you cursed Egyptian artifacts, you don't say 'no.'"
Several days later, a regular box arrived via the United States Postal Service. The word "Fragile" was handwritten on the side. Inside the box were two statues wrapped in tissue paper and bar towels. One figure was of Horus The Child, and the other was of Isis and Horus.
Rod didn't know what to make of these statues, not being an expert. He didn't know if what he was looking at was real or fake. He snapped some photos and sent them to people he knew that were more knowledgeable. They both told him that the statues were "viable candidates" for being real. One believes that it is from the period of King Tut, the other believes that they're not quite as old.
So, are they actually cursed? Rod Hansen hasn't had any bad luck since taking them into the museum. He also hasn't followed up with the donor to find out if his luck changed since boxing them up and sending them to Idaho. As for the "Curse of the Pharaohs," there's no actual proof that it exists either. Newspapers of the era wanted so desperately to have an angle to sell papers that they often made up sensational stories. Stories like the lights going out in Cairo, the dog dying at the exact moment as Carnarvon, and even the warning on the tomb. Lord Carnarvon was well known to be in poor health and actually died of pneumonia. Could a mosquito bite have contributed to his death? Sure, but probably not a curse.
You won't be able to see those "cursed" statues on your next trip to the Museum of Idaho. Maybe one day, there will be a natural place for them to be displayed. Until then, they are locked away in a vault, keeping Idaho safe from the "Curse of the Pharaohs."