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24 September 2014
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Fast facts about Egypt


Fast facts about Tutankhamun and the curse


Two stillborn baby girls were found in Tutankhamun's tomb. They had been mummified and placed in tiny coffins. The hair, eyelashes and eyeballs were still preserved. They are thought to be the offspring of Tutankhamun and his wife, who miscarried at five and seven months.


Lord Carnarvon - Howard Carter's sponsor and friend - died from an infected mosquito bite on his cheek. When the gold death mask of Tutankhamun was lifted, he, too, had a lesion on his cheek.


At the precise moment of Lord Carnarvon's death, the lights blacked out across Cairo and his beloved dog, Susie, howled and dropped down dead. It was thought to be the work of the curse of Tutankhamun.


Even the renowned writer of the time, Conan Doyle (famous for Sherlock Holmes), thought that the death of Carnarvon could have been a result of the Pharaoh's Curse.


Although the curse of Tutankhamun was made up by the media of the time, there could be some health hazards associated with unwrapping mummies, and today archaeologists wear protective clothing while working.


In 1999, Gotthard Kramer, a German microbiologist from the University of Leipzig, suggested that there might be some truth to the mummies' curse. Studying 40 different mummies, he identified several potentially dangerous mould spores. He believes that when tombs were first opened, fresh air could have disturbed these spores, blowing them into the air, and perhaps creating health problems.


Fast facts about Belzoni


Early Egyptologists camped in empty tombs while excavating The Valley of the Kings.


Following his fame as an adventurer and explorer, Belzoni preferred to forget his humble and unique beginnings as a circus performer, strongman and actor. This part of his life is entirely missing in his autobiography, Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs and Excavations, in Egypt and Nubia. (Third ed., 1822).


Long before the birth of the Women's Liberation movement, Belzoni's loyal wife, Sarah Belzoni, was to all intents and purposes one of the first truly emancipated women. She remained childless, wore men's clothing, smoked a pipe and went on her own fascinating adventures. Her autobiography, Mrs Belzoni's Trifling Account of the Women, was published as an appendix to her husband's work in 1822.


Belzoni died as he had lived, in a blaze of glory, trying to finish Buckhardt's last adventure to find the source of the Niger. In 1823, Belzoni set out for Timbuktu in West Africa, but died at the village of Gwato, near Benin, Nigeria on 3 December 1823. He was aged just 45. In 1825, Sarah Belzoni exhibited his drawings and the models of the Royal tombs of Thebes in Paris.


The pioneering Fisk family so admired The Great Belzoni that in 1832, they named their small settlement in his honour. The town of Belzoni now sits in the Mississippi Delta, USA, and is the proud home of the World Catfish Festival. Quite what the great man himself would have thought of that we will never know…


Fast facts about Jean-François Champollion


One of the reasons Ancient Egyptian culture was lost for so long was down to the Romans. Julius Caesar burnt down the library that contained thousands of scrolls detailing the history of the kingdom in 47 AD.


Hieroglyphic script remained a mystery for an incredible 1,400 years until Champollion became the only man in the world to understand it.


The Rosetta Stone still has pride of place in The British Museum.


Champollion could speak seven languages at the age of 13, including Latin, Greek and Hebrew.


Champollion died in 1832 of a stroke, aged just 34.


He is known by many to be the Father of Egyptology – some of the unique works he left behind are: Introduction to Egypt Under the Pharaohs; Egypt of the Pharaohs: Researches in the Geography, Religion, Language and History of the Egyptians Before the Invasion of Cambyses (1814); Egyptian Grammar (1836); and Egyptian Dictionary (1842).



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