Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The curse of the mummies (1)

This short feature by Zahi Hawass on the Al Ahram website is copied in full, because it will only be shown for a short period and will not be archived: "The curse of the mummies (Part 1)by Zahi HawassAfter the announcement of the discovery, the small town of El Bawiti became famous. People from all over the world wanted to visit and see the Valley of the Golden Mummies. Friends from Egypt and America, news teams from Europe, tour companies, professors, and ambassadors came to the site.My personal belief is that mummies should not be displayed for personal reasons, and at the end of the 1999 season, I was strongly urged to open the Bahariya to tourists. After much thought, I moved five of the most beautiful mummies from Tomb 54 to the Bahariya Museum. By moving these five the rest would remain safe.
The mummies I had moved to the museum would promote tourism and allow the tourists to view some of the mummies without tramping around the cemetery. Tourists are dangerous to archaeological sites, and having hordes of people walking all over Bahariya would do it terrible damage.Two of the mummies I moved to the museum were a boy, aged five and a younger girl. By the way they were decorated and because they were found in the same tomb, I concluded they were probably brother and sister.
It never occurred to me that until I moved the two children to their resting place in the museum that the so-called curse of the mummies existed. This idea, of course, has been around since Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. After I moved the children I prepared myself to travel to the United States to teach archaeology at UCLA.I went to Los Angeles and settled in to begin my course. But the golden children had followed me to California and were haunting my dreams. In the dream, the children reached out their arms to me, trying to grab me, another mummy, a woman, I had also moved, appeared looking at me with pleading eyes. Every night they visited my dreams. In my worst nightmare, the little girl reached her White arms towards me and tried to wrap them around my throat. Why were they disturbing my rest?"

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