Virtual Mummy vs. Mummy's Curse

Virtual Mummy vs. Mummy's Curse

The curse of King Tut's tomb has been believed by some since the late 1920s, because 11 people associated with the 1922 excavation of the tomb of the Egyptian King Tutankhamen were dead by 1929.

Emily Teeter, the University of Chicago associate curator of the Oriental Institute, explained that many of them just died of old age.

But, according to a recent Der Spiegel report, and other media accounts, they may have been helped to their demises by some things within the tomb harmful to people with weakened immune systems. These were toxic mold spores, made especially dangerous by the tomb's conditions.

When a tomb is opened, fresh air from outside stirs spores up, endangering any archeologists and team members who have not taken precautions.

As an example of the latter, William Peck, the Detroit Institute of Arts ancient art curator, not long ago performed an autopsy of a mummy, and he and his associates wore body suits, rubber gloves and masks.

Mummies no longer have to be sliced to be studied. Now, computer tomography can be utilized to take X-ray images in order to create a "virtual mummy" safe for even amateurs to study without the risk of infection by mold from mummy wrappings. The first virtual mummy was compiled in July 1999 by Bernhard Pfesser of Germany and his associates at the University of Hamburg's Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science in Medicine. They, of course, used the X-ray technique.

Sources:, 8/25/99; University of Hamburg website