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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

curse of Princess Amen-Ra In 1968, a startling story began to be picked up by the popular press. It involved a dead Egyptian princess, an ancient curse and lots of disaster, all the ingredients needed to attract attention. Author John Macklin wrote:  


      The Princess of Amen-Ra lived some 1,500 years before the birth of Christ. When she died, she was lain in an ornate wooden coffin and buried deep in a vault at Luxor, Egypt, on the banks of the Nile.

      Macklin went on to describe how in the early 1900s “four rich young Englishmen” bought the mummy of the princess in Egypt, whereupon one of them promptly walked out into the desert and vanished. Another of the buyers had his arm shot off, yet another had his bank fail, and the last one went broke and “was reduced to selling matches in the street.”
      But, according to Macklin, the curse was only getting started. The next owner had three of his family injured in an accident and his house caught fire. He wisely gave the boxed princess to the British Museum.
      Things went wrong from the very first minute that the museum took possession. The vehicle delivering the mummy backed up and pinned a pedestrian. One of the two porters carrying the sarcophagus fell down the stairs and broke a leg; the other died mysteriously two days later of unknown causes. Exhibits in the room where the princess was displayed, once they got her through the door, were thrown about at night. A spirit from the coffin tried to throw a night watchman down a delivery chute. The child of a worker who showed disrespect to the princess died of measles.
      There's much more. Macklin related that one worker who had delivered the princess to the museum fell seriously ill and another was found dead at his desk. A photographer sent to record the artifact found that the face painted on the sarcophagus registered on film as a “human——and horrific——face.” Apparently overcome by this repulsive result, he promptly locked himself up in his darkroom and shot himself.
      Then, according to Macklin, the British Museum offered to sell this very awkward object to anyone who dared to buy it. It was now 1912. As we might expect, a brash, wealthy and enterprising American came upon the scene, heedlessly offered to buy the princess, snapped her up for a good price, and decided to ship her to New York. Macklin concluded his tale:

      The mummy case was placed in the cargo hold aboard a sparkling new White Star liner about to make its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to New York.
      On the night of April 14, amid scenes of unprecedented horror, the Princess Amen-Ra accompanied 1,500 passengers to their deaths at the bottom of the Atlantic. The name of the ship was the Titanic.

      Though this story has been circulated and recirculated, rewritten and enthusiastically enhanced, it is still just a story. The mummy never existed and the entire tale is a journalistic exercise in bad writing and witless sensationalism, a story that the British Museum is often called upon to deny. The museum even publishes an official denial which is sent to those who inquire. But the story will show up again, count on it.
      And it will be believed.
      See also Tut, curse of King.



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