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The Mummy's Curse, by Roger Luckhurst

Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

When on the 5th of April 1923, Lord Carnarvon, who had financed the archaeological excavation that had unearthed the tomb of Tutankhamen the previous November, died from an infected insect bite, the rumour went around that he had been the victim of some ancient curse. The popular press added a number of lurid details, such as that at the time of his death all the lights in Cairo went out, and that his dog back in England commenced howling. Over the years a litany of other deaths was added to the list, and despite the fact that Howard Carter, the man who had first entered the tomb lived to a good age, the legend grew in one popular account after another.

How did such an idea originate? Roger Luckhurst traces the development of such stories against the background of Britain’s colonial relationship with Egypt, and changing perceptions of ancient Egypt caused by that connection.

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