The Truth About King Tut’s Curse And Its Victims

We should not lose sight of the fact that there was some pretty seriously creepy stuff that went down after the tomb was opened. According to Time, when the archaeologists broke through to the first room they found two statues of Tutankhamun. The statues were life-sized, and on each head was a crown decorated with stylized cobras.

The locals who were working with Carter were spooked by the images of the snakes, because cobras were symbolic of the king’s justice, and maybe also because they’d seen some version of that stupid mummy-unwrapping stage play. Then, later that day Howard Carter’s pet canary was literally eaten by a cobra, so that spooked the locals even more. Some of them believed the spirit of the dead king was warning the archaeologists away.

It’s worth noting, though, that Egyptian cobras aren’t exactly uncommon in Egypt, and they are attracted to villages, where they can easily prey on young chickens, rats, and — yes — canaries. So for every canary that died in Egypt the day Tut’s tomb was opened, there were probably a few thousand other small animals that also got eaten by cobras, and not because they had anything to do with the opening of a pharaoh’s tomb. Still, the only cobra-prey that gained notoriety was that one yellow canary, who happened to be unfortunate enough to get eaten at precisely the right moment in history.

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