The mummy's curse: historical cohort study

BMJ. 2002 Dec 21;325(7378):1482-4. doi: 10.1136/bmj.325.7378.1482.

Abstract

Objective: To examine survival of individuals exposed to the "mummy's curse" reputedly associated with the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen in Luxor, Egypt, between February 1923 and November 1926.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Participants: 44 Westerners identified by Howard Carter as present in Egypt at the specified dates, 25 of whom were potentially exposed to the curse.

Main outcome measures: Length of survival after date of potential exposure.

Results: In the 25 people exposed to the curse the mean age at death was 70 years (SD 12) compared with 75 (13) in those not exposed (P=0.87 for difference). Survival after the date of exposure was 20.8 (15.2) v 28.9 (13.6) years respectively (P=0.95 for difference). Female sex was a predictor for survival (P=0.02).

Conclusions: There was no significant association between exposure to the mummy's curse and survival and thus no evidence to support the existence of a mummy's curse.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Egypt
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mummies / history*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Superstitions / history*
  • Superstitions / psychology
  • Survival Analysis