An Eerie Prediction
Maria Corelli, an American writer of horror tales, sent a letter to the New York Times in 1923 saying an ancient Arabic passage warned that persons entering a pharaoh’s tomb would be struck dead.
On April 5 of that year, Lord Carnarvon died in Egypt and his dog, Susie, dropped dead in England after howling loudly. Simultaneously, all of the lights in Cairo, Egypt, went out. Was that the curse playing out its worst?
Out of the 40 people present at the opening of the inner tomb and sarcophagus, only 6 had died, with an average age of 58. But three more were dead within four years. How could that be?
To begin, Lord Carnarvon was a sick and frail man. He had been bitten by a mosquito early in 1923, opened it up while shaving, and developed an infection; with his immune system compromised by ill health, he grew weaker and died.
Scientific proof of another theory besides the curse didn’t come until 1962, when a Cairo University biologist proposed that museum workers had contracted respiratory illness from artifacts. He confirmed the presence of microbial growth—Aspergillus niger—a fungus with black mold spores that can cause fatal lung disease. They surmised that the tomb had been hastily painted and sealed up while damp causing mold, fungus and dangerous spores.