On this day in 1923 the Egyptologist Howard Carter opened the inner burial chamber of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb – this was the first Pharaoh’s tomb to be found un-desecrated. There were many wonders within the tomb including a beautiful cup with the inscription “May your spirit live, May you spend millions of years, You who love Thebes, Sitting with your face to the north wind, Your eyes beholding happiness”.
It was a historic moment but the joy was short lived. Many of those who were there that day met unexpected deaths soon after, including Lord Carnarvon who died two months later, of an infected mosquito bite. The very same day, his pet canary was killed by a cobra and back home in England his dog died. The legend of the desecrated tomb and the Curse of King Tut was born.
Howard Carter lived on unscathed and died a natural death at the age of 64. It seemed that King Tut had spared him. In the prosaic setting of Putney Vale Cemetery in London, his gravestone is inscribed with familiar words: “May your spirit live, May you spend millions of years, You who love Thebes, Sitting with your face to the north wind, Your eyes beholding happiness.”
Today’s poem is from the Egyptian Book of the Dead written in 3500 BC, He Biddeth Osiris to Arise from the Dead:
Arise up on thy feet, O quiet heart.
O Quiet Heart, thy body is made perfect.
Isis among the reeds along the Nile
And in the dark papyrus swamps bewailed thee,
And sheltered Horus to avenge thy fate.
He hath come forth from secret habitations,
He hath warred mightily against thy foe,
And now he saileth in the boat of sunrise.
Come forth, O Quiet Heart, I have avenged thee.
Today I give thanks for the lessons of history and to have respect for the dead who are our ancestors.