Documentary claims that a writer invented the myth in anger at a rival newspaper getting the exclusive on the pharaoh’s tomb discovery.
The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb was the biggest archaeological discovery ever seen, sparking a press frenzy and triggering a global bout of “Tut-mania”. Newspapers from across the world sent journalists to the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, eager to supply their readers with news and images of the lost treasures.
However, Carter was spooked by the hordes descending on his excavation and was concerned that he would look foolish if something went wrong or if the tomb did not live up to expectations when opened. Determined to control the narrative, he offered the entire exclusive to The Times, shutting out the scores of other journalists who had travelled to Egypt.
Amongst those was Arthur Weigall of the Daily Mail.
Howard Carter, the British archaeologist, discovered the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh on 4 November 1922, and entered the teenage king’s burial chamber with Lord Carnarvon the following February.
The tomb was still intact and packed with treasures, including the sarcophagus containing Tutankhamun.
Yet within six weeks of the opening, Lord Carnarvon was dead, and there followed a series of mysterious deaths of people who had either worked on the excavation or had visited the tomb, triggering a slew of newspaper articles suggesting that they were victims of an ancient curse.
Now, a new UK Channel 4 documentary has claimed that the curse rumour was sparked by Arthur Weigall, an Egyptologist-turned-reporter who was annoyed that the exclusive story had been given to The Times. Is that more plausible than pharaoh's curse? Maybe.