The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun's Tomb

The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun's Tomb
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Release Date
September 07, 2021
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Award-winning and critically acclaimed author Candace Fleming presents the edge-of-your-seat true story of the search for Tutankhamun's tomb, the Western public's belief that the dig was cursed, and the battle for ownership of the treasures within.
During the reign of the New Kingdom of Egypt, the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun ruled and died tragically young. In order to send him on his way into the afterlife, his tomb was filled with every treasure he would need after death. And then, it was lost to time, buried in the sands of the Valley of the Kings.

His tomb was also said to be cursed.

Centuries later, as Egypt-mania gripped Europe, two Brits -- a rich earl with a habit for gambling and a disreputable, determined archeologist -- worked for years to rediscover and open Tutankhamun's tomb. But once it was uncovered, would ancient powers take their revenge for disturbing and even looting the pharaoh's resting place? What else could explain the mysterious illnesses, accidents, and deaths that began once it was found?

Editor review

1 review
Best Book on Carter's Excavation I've Seen!
(Updated: October 17, 2021)
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Ah, the checkered past of archaeology. Look! Here are sacred objects buried for thousands of years! Let's dig them up, take them out of their native country, and use them as knick knacks in our parlor! Thankfully, by the time Lord Carnavon was determined to have a dig at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, and got Howard Carter to lead it, things had changed a bit from the style of the 1800s excavations, and the dig, while not perfect, was well documented. Fleming gives us a brief overview of earlier practices and the push to find artifacts, information about Carnavon and Carter, a smattering of Egyptian politics, and even some discussion about the interest in the supernatural after World War I.

That's all good stuff, and aligns with our 6th grade social studies unit on ancient cultures. Tutankhamun's career and burial are definitely something that are still studied, and this helpfully includes a timeline of pharoahs so that Tut's place within history is clear. But the brilliant part is that Fleming tells us all of the suspected incidents of "curses" that came out of the discoveries before swiftly and decisively debunking them. Even the cover has those great glowing eyes and smoke trail hinting that there's some greater power at work... but there isn't. There are even statistics about life expectancies of people who were present at the tomb as opposed to those not. The curse is a good story to lure readers in, but the actual history and the details about how a dig is properly run are what is truly fascinating.
Good Points
I was surprised at the number of really good pictures of the dig, and the numbering of objects that Carter did, although I shouldn't have been. It was fun to see some of the stuffy English workers in their long john tops and what looked like plimsoll shoes! Of course, the research is brilliant, and like other books by Fleming (most notably The Family Romanov), even if I don't quite feel like reading a long nonfiction book, the writing sucks me right in.

This might be a stretch for some middle school readers, but I've had an increasing number of students who want quality, narrative nonfiction books, and since this aligns with the curriculum, I don't have to feel at all bad about buying it. I can't wait to get a print version of this; I read an E ARC and am half tempted to reread this to get another look at all of the photographs. Anyone interested in archaeology or ancient Egypt will want to take a look at this one.

If I need any more excuse, it would be to offer this as a precursor to reading David MacCauley's The Motel of the Mysteries (October 11, 1979), which I would have sworn I read in middle school, but I couldn't have, since it didn't come out until I was in high school. A lot of work for a few archaeology jokes (especially since you really need background information about Schliemann at Hisarlik), but totally worth it!
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