Most people like a good ghost story, and one of the most popular is the story of King Tut’s curse.

As a scientist, I suspect the “Mummy’s curse” story originated with those trying to keep tomb robbers from stealing grandmom’s jewelry, and was reinforced by a nasty fungal infection that can kill those who open crypts…

So now the latest version of the mummy’s curse is the news that several of those who discovered or worked on the Iceman have died in mysterious circumstances.

The body of Otzi, the Iceman, was found by hikers in 1991. Originally, the body was reported to local police who thought it was either a recent murder victim or the long buried victim of an avalanche, perhaps a soldier from World War I.

Later examination showed the body was 5000 years old, and it’s careful examination revealed many aspects of European neolithic village life. However, there was a lot of speculation about the actual cause of death until X rays and more sophisticated equipment revealed an arrow head. So his story is now that of a fugative fleeing from others, who died from blood loss after being hit by an arrow.

The “curse” story now making the rounds is probably coincidence: brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, etc. don’t really have much to do with curses, after all, and deaths from car crashes are common.
However, the fact that another man involved in moving Otzi from his grave died from a  freak avalanche in 1993 does sort of make one wonder…


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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