Tut's Toxic Tomb (2022) Movie Script

[Light music playing]
Ella: A century ago,...
in the Valley of the Kings
in Egypt,...
an archaeologist
broke into a royal tomb.
And found one of the greatest
hauls of treasure in history.
Nothing, and I mean nothing,...
like the tomb of Tutankhamun
had ever been found before.
Ella: The burial chamber
was over 3,000 years old.
What lay inside,
was some of the most...
astonishing works of art
ever made.
The world was obsessed
with the romance...
and the intrigue
of the discovery.
Ella: But within months,...
men who had entered
the burial chamber began to die.
The press began spinning tales
of King Tut's curse.
And a legend was unleashed.
It's a great story.
The world was hooked,...
not just a story
of the supernatural...
but obsession,
jealousy and death.
Ella: Soon the mythical curse
became a global phenomenon.
There were people
clamoring to get in.
Meredith: It was a bit
like having vultures around.
Reputable scholars
said this was just nonsense,...
...but the people eat it up.
Ella: But if the curse story
was nonsense,...
could these deaths
have another explanation?
The DNA material inside...
...could live
for thousands of years.
Oh, this is quite emotional.
Ella: I'm reopening one of the
greatest cold cases in history.
It can cause lung infections...
and can cause sepsis
and death.
Ella: Finally,
can modern science explain...
the legendary curse
of Tutankhamun?
[Foreboding music playing]
[Light music playing]
Ella: Every autumn,...
Egypt begins to buzz
with excitement.
Archaeologists from all over the
world descend on ancient sites.
It's just an absolute frenzy
behind me.
Everyone's just screaming,...
it's like a production line
of men and dust and sand.
Ella: Everyone here
is desperately hoping...
to hit
the next big discovery...
because if they find
the next big discovery,...
it puts them on the map,...
it makes headline news
all over the world.
But most of the time, of course,
that's not what happens.
But it if happens, it's huge.
As a paleoanthropologist,...
I study the human stories
at the heart of our ancient past.
My family's from Yemen...
and I'm fascinated by
the history of the Middle East.
[Both conversing
in foreign language]
Ella: Like those digging
in the desert today,...
I've been inspired
by the most extraordinary...
archaeological find
of all time.
In 1922,...
a team led by the British
archaeologist, Howard Carter,...
discovered the tomb of the
teenage pharaoh, Tutankhamun.
The first virtually intact
pharaoh's tomb ever found.
It was filled
with thousands of treasures.
From royal chariots...
to the coffins
of Tutankhamun himself.
Complete with dazzling
golden death mask.
Huge crowds
descended on the tomb.
While newspapers
around the world...
announced the find
of the century.
Carter's thousands
of precious discoveries...
were shipped down the Nile...
to the Museum
of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.
Archaeologist Dr. Meredith Brand
is an expert on Tut's treasures.
Ella: Why do you think people
are so obsessed with Tutankhamun?
Meredith: It was huge.
I mean, no one had ever seen
anything like it before.
You'd get these tantalizing
glimpses of royal tombs...
...that had some jewelry here,
some jewelry there,...
...a coffin or something.
But this was everything together.
And it was just luxury
like people hadn't seen.
It was gold, it was glitter,
it was everything.
Ella: And you can see like,
everybody with their cameras.
Meredith: Completely captured
the imagination.
We're surrounded by tons
of people that are here...
and just to see this stuff.
Ella: Today, at the very heart
of the museum...
is the greatest treasure
of the tomb.
Meredith: This is the death mask
of Tutankhamun.
It would have rested
on top of his mummy.
There's a lot of bling here.
Talk me through
some of this bling.
Yes, this is so much bling.
This is two sheets of gold that
were hammered and put together.
And then all
of the precious things...
that Egypt had
over their control...
are reflected
in this beautiful piece.
So, we've got gold
which is Egypt and Nubian...
and then the bands
of his headdress,...
that's actually glass paste.
Ella: Wow, okay.
Which you wouldn't think.
I mean, we see glass everywhere.
There's glass in front of me
right now.
Meredith: But glass
at the time of Tutankhamun,...
had just been invented.
It was the chicest thing
you could have,...
so in Tutankhamun's time,...
you would see this
and think wow, this is opulence.
Ella: Any other precious stones
that are worth mentioning?
Meredith: Yeah, so we've got
obsidian for his pupils...
and quartz for the eyes.
There's turquoise, carnelian,
Lapis lazuli.
It's beyond belief.
You have to see it
with your own eyes.
Ella: The death mask
was designed...
to guide the spirit
of Tutankhamun...
back to its resting place
in his body.
Ella: So many people are used...
to seeing the front
of the mask...
but actually
there is a whole pile of stuff...
going on
at the back of the mask.
Could you talk me through
some of this?
Meredith: So, at the back,...
there's inscriptions
from the book of the dead.
Ella: Right.
Meredith: Yes.
Ella: Okay.
Meredith: So, not only
do you have the actual mask...
guarding his mummy
and protecting it,...
but you have
these protective spells...
that would enact rituals...
so that his mummy
would be preserved...
and make it to the afterlife.
Ella: It's just something
quite spectacular.
The back of the mask
has its own story to tell.
And I mean, this is something...
to always remember
with ancient Egyptian art.
It's beautiful, it's luxurious...
but at the same time,
it is ritually functional.
Ella: It's believed Tutankhamun
died of malaria...
at just 19 years old.
To preserve his body
for the afterlife,...
priests dried him in salt...
and stored his organs
in hand-carved containers.
During mummification,...
the embalmers
would have removed his lungs,...
his liver, his stomach
and his intestines.
And each one of those organs...
would be put
in these individual containers...
so that he could live again.
The top craftsmen, in the ancient
world, were making these pieces.
Look at this face
of Tutankhamun,...
it's carved in alabaster
so delicately.
Ella: To protect the treasures
from tomb raiders,...
they had a special guard.
Meredith: This is the God Anubis.
Ella: Uh-huh.
And he's reclining
with his paws out...
and he's got this watchful
yet ferocious look in his eye.
He's completely alert,
guarding Tut's tomb.
He did a really good job
for 3,000 plus years.
- So, well done.
- He did, good job.
[Both laugh]
Ella: But these
spectacular treasures...
aren't the only reason...
the world became obsessed
with Tutankhamun.
[Wind whooshing]
Ella: Within months,...
word was starting to spread
of a series of mysterious deaths.
[Electricity crackles]
Ella: The victims died...
from things
as varied as pneumonia,...
gunshot or suicide.
And they were all linked
to the tomb.
For the newspapers,...
these exotic deaths
were a goldmine...
and they started to splash
stories of King Tut's curse.
Now this is an article
in the Daily Mirror...
and in this article,
the death toll just skyrockets.
In fact,
they just get to the point...
where they just start
listing the names...
of the victims of the curse.
So, we have
Sir Archibald Douglas Reed,...
Professor Le Fleur,
Mr. HG Evelyn White,...
M. Benedit,
Colonel Aubrey Herbert,...
...Mr. J. Gould,
Mrs. Evelyn Waddington Green,...
...Dr. Jonathan W. Carver.
The curse was taken seriously...
by readers across the world.
[Car horns honking]
What was it about this story...
that so gripped
the imagination?
Was it just part of a fascination
with an exotic east?
Or was something else going on?
I can't help but wonder...
whether something happens
to archaeology...
in this, this place that's
just so constantly alive...
and full of history.
Yet, I guess I wonder whether
there's an obsessive streak...
or even, or even a madness
to Egyptology.
Ella: To understand
the extraordinary curse story,...
I need to investigate
Howard Carter,...
the man whose obsession
led him to the tomb.
Ella: Tomorrow, I'm heading down
to the Valley of the Kings.
I'm fascinated
with how this one tomb...
had absolutely captured...
the imagination
of the world for so long.
Ella: Could the curse
that's bewitched the world...
have a truth lying behind it?
One that sheds new light...
on the deaths
blamed on Tutankhamun.
[Engine revving]
Ella: I'm investigating the truth
behind a dark shadow...
that hung over the discovery
of Tutankhamun's tomb.
So, I'm going back to the start.
To the man whose obsession
led him to the tomb,...
Howard Carter.
Egyptologist, Chris Naunton,...
has spent years
studying Carter...
and the fascination
that drew him to Egypt.
As a young man,...
Carter first came to Egypt
as an artist.
Making detailed copies
of Egyptian paintings.
These are part of a collection...
of watercolor paintings
that Carter made.
He's a teenager at this point
and they are incredibly detailed.
In themselves, often sort of,
little mini works of art,...
little mini masterpieces.
He was good,
he was really, really good.
Ella: Carter soon became
fascinated by Egyptian culture.
And desperate to become
an archaeologist.
Yet this world was dominated by
the highly educated and the rich.
Chris: Egyptology was largely
restricted to elites...
and Carter was not really
a part of that elite himself.
He didn't have
a scholarly training.
He wasn't
from a wealthy background.
Carter was something
of an outsider in Egyptology.
Ella: But the young man
had something...
many of his richer
fellows lacked.
Through hard work
and his passion for Egypt,...
Carter rose through the ranks
of archaeology.
Determined to find a treasure
of his own.
This is a time when lots...
of really spectacular
discovery is being made.
And it's clear that Carter wanted
something like this for himself.
Ella: Carter's hunt
gradually focused...
on the Valley of the Kings.
Three hundred miles
south of Cairo,...
this ancient site was used...
as a burial ground
for pharaohs...
for almost five centuries.
Some archaeologists thought...
the valley had given up
all its treasures.
But Carter was obsessed
with finding a spectacular prize.
The tomb of the teenaged pharaoh,
In 1917, Carter's search began
in earnest.
Yet after five years,
he was still looking.
Chris: The people around him,
I think,...
were losing faith
in what he was doing...
and he says himself
in his published account,...
"We had now dug in the valley
for several seasons...
...with extremely
scanty results."
And those around him
were saying,...
"Ah, do you know what?
I think it's time to stop."
But he's the one
who's determined, obsessed maybe.
Ella: But if others
were losing faith in Carter,...
there was one man
who shared his obsession.
George Herbert,
the 5th Earl of Carnarvon...
was an aristocrat
with a hunger for adventure.
He loved horse racing, fast cars
and above all, ancient Egypt.
Unlike Carter, Carnarvon
came from the wealthy elite...
and had money to spend
on digs in the desert.
The two men
formed a close partnership.
financed Carter's search...
in the Valley of the Kings.
But by 1922,
Carter had found nothing,...
and soon, even Carnarvon's
patience was wearing thin.
Yet Carter convinced
his financial backer...
to give him one last chance.
In the autumn of 1922,...
Howard Carter set out
once again to find Tutankhamun.
He knew that if he failed,
there would be no next time.
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: The Valley of the Kings...
is one of the holiest sites
in ancient Egypt.
When Carter arrived in 1922,...
around 60 tombs
had already been discovered.
At first, he found nothing,...
but then as Carter
later described,...
a water boy discovered
a stone step in the sand.
It led down
to an ancient staircase...
cut deep into the bedrock.
That discovery
soon led to treasure.
But then,
men involved began to die.
The press were quick
to blame a curse.
But what's the real explanation
for the Tutankhamun deaths?
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: In November 1922,...
Howard Carter's
relentless search...
for a pharaoh's tomb
was finally over.
His team had uncovered
an ancient staircase...
cut deep into the rock
of the Valley of the Kings.
Egyptologist, Salima Ikram...
has spent decades
studying what happened next.
Salima: So, Ella,
this is where we're going.
This is the great tomb
of Tutankhamun.
This doesn't really
look like much,...
it doesn't look like
this opening...
...to one of the greatest
discoveries ever made,...
...a tomb
that was so important...
...it changed
the course of history.
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: After excavating
tons of rubble,...
Howard Carter
reached a sealed doorway.
Ella: The hole
would have been here somewhere?
This would have all
been filled in...
and then he took out
a few stones...
and then they put in
a light...
to make sure that
there weren't horrible gasses...
that would kill them all.
And then in the flicker
of that light, he looked in,...
and all he could see
was the glint of gold...
Salima: and wonderful things.
Ella: Yeah.
Ella: Though he dreamt
of this moment for decades,...
it's unlikely Carter
could have imagined...
the sheer number
of treasures the tomb contained.
Salima: When Carter came in,...
this place
was chockablock with objects.
There were beds here,...
and they were piled high
with food offerings underneath.
There were pieces of chariots,
there were boxes with jewelry,...
so you could barely get in.
[Light music playing]
Ella: The reason for the chaotic
appearance of Tut's tomb...
may have been
his untimely demise.
Aged at just 19,...
his own royal tomb was
unlikely to have been finished.
Instead, it's thought priests
were forced...
to use a smaller tomb meant
for a less important figure.
And packed it to the rafters.
Salima: So, Ella, we have special
permission to come in here.
Ella: Ah.
Salima: This is the main event.
There would have been
a bunch of shrines,...
and then we have
the sarcophagus.
And inside,
there was a nest of coffins...
and in the innermost one,...
you would have had
the gold mask...
on top
of the body of the king.
[Ominous music playing]
Ella: And how do you think
Howard Carter reacted...
when he saw the death mask?
Salima: Well, I mean,
can you imagine...
just looking at it
with the flickering light...
and seeing
this beautiful thing.
And it's very moving
because behind the mask...
lies the king himself.
Ella: So, this is Tutankhamun?
Yes, this is the boy himself.
Ella: It's incredible how
you can see the detail, though.
How do you feel
about Tutankhamun?
Salima: I feel actually
really fond of him...
because when I was little,
like many of us,...
he was one of the reasons
one fell into Egyptology.
And I'd had a chance to spend
time with his physical self,...
so, one gets
a certain intimacy.
And one feels
also a bit protective, I think.
Ella: Howard Carter had found
the tomb of his dreams.
He and his team set about
obsessively cataloguing...
every one
of its thousands of treasures.
But while Carter could oversee...
what was happening
inside the tomb,...
events outside it were soon
moving beyond his control.
There was a huge amount
of excitement.
And the press flocked here,
and people flocked here.
And, you know, anyone
who was in Egypt, in fact,...
ditched all their plans
and came to Luxor.
The mouth of the tomb
was knee-deep with people...
and they would just wait
to see what was going on.
It was a bit
like a garden party sometimes...
with ladies sipping their tea
and others doing their knitting.
Ella: Tut-mania soon went global.
The tomb was open
just as photography,...
film and advertising
were reshaping the world.
And Tutankhamun
became a modern sensation.
He was used
to sell lemons in California.
Jewelry was designed
in the King Tut style.
And students even dressed up
as the young pharaoh's mummy.
Newspapers battled for a piece...
of the biggest
story on the planet.
You've got all of these people
clamoring to get in...
and then the press.
So there was real media circus.
They were all around it,
they were encircling,...
it was a bit like
having vultures around.
Ella: How did Howard Carter
and Carnarvon feel about this?
How did they deal with it?
Salima: Carter really wanted
to get on with the work...
and so, there was also
this stress of,...
"Will I do this correctly?
Who knows
what's going to be in there?"
And in the end,
what he decided to do,...
which, perhaps,
was not the best decision,...
was that they would give
exclusive rights to The Times...
and not to the rest
of the media.
How unique was it to give
exclusive rights to The Times?
No one had had this kind
of find before,...
so, it was completely new
for archaeology to do that...
because they'd also never had
such a press interest.
Of course,
all the rest of the media...
was really angry about this.
Ella: One of the journalists...
locked out
of the exclusive story...
was a man
called Arthur Weigall.
Weigall had begun
as an archaeologist...
and had worked
alongside Howard Carter.
But by the time
Carter had won global fame,...
Weigall was earning his living
as a journalist.
Salima: He was never as good
an archaeologist as Carter.
And so, there is Howard Carter
finding this thing,...
Arthur Weigall's
been gnashing his teeth.
Weigall's a journalist,
he wants to sell papers,...
so, let's spin a tale.
"Oh, Carnarvon,
if he goes in there,...
I'll give him six weeks
to live."
Ella: That prophecy
would soon haunt...
those involved
in the discovery.
And make
Tutankhamun's tomb notorious...
for far more than treasure.
[Light music playing]
Ella: Deep in southern England,
lies Beacon Hill.
It overlooks Highclere,
the mansion of Lord Carnarvon.
In February 1923,
Carnarvon attended the opening...
of the burial chamber
of Tutankhamun.
Journalist Arthur Weigall heard
Carnarvon joking as he entered.
Weigall reportedly said,...
"He'd give Carnarvon
six weeks to live."
Just over six weeks later,
Carnarvon was dead.
[Bird squawking]
He died in the morning
of April 5th, 1923...
in the Grand
Continental Hotel in Cairo.
The cause of death was pneumonia
and blood poisoning...
from an infected
mosquito bite.
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: But within days,
stories emerged in the press...
that Lord Carnarvon's death...
was a result
of something more sinister.
Newspapers buzzed with rumors...
that the death
was caused by a curse.
A punishment for disturbing
the rest of the pharaoh.
And the press didn't have
to wait long for another story.
George Jay Gould
was a railroad millionaire...
from one of the wealthiest
families in America.
Like many of the super-rich,...
Gould enjoyed yachting,
polo and travel.
In 1923, he was in Egypt.
Like dozens
of wealthy tourists,...
he visited the most
sensational site in the country.
Here, along with other VIP's,
he was allowed to enter...
and look around
the tomb of Tutankhamun.
He soon contracted a fever.
Within a month, he was dead.
It was just six weeks...
after the death
of Lord Carnarvon.
Curiously for both men,
their long list of ailments...
included the same
lung infection, pneumonia.
Then, just a year later,...
an Egyptologist who had
attended the tomb opening,...
committed suicide.
According to newspapers,...
Hugh Evelyn White,
left a note saying,...
"I have succumbed to a curse."
In less than two years,...
three of the men who had
entered the tomb were dead.
Fanned by journalists,...
the legend of Tut's curse
was gaining strength.
So, was the curse really just
the creation of the media?
Or did its roots lie
in something more ancient?
Salima: Ella, come over here,
I'll show you something.
This is one
of my favorite curses.
"If you come into my tomb...
and do anything terrible
like rob it,...
I shall have your neck broken
like that bird."
It's quite a violent curse.
Well, I mean, if you're
protecting your tomb,...
...there has to be some degree
of threat going on,...
no one's gonna pay any attention.
Ella: Salima Ikram's evidence
shows that 4,000 years ago,...
curses were used
to frighten grave robbers.
"If you come into my tomb...
and you are impure
and unclean,...
may the council of gods
smite you...
and they will wring
your neck."
And just around the corner,...
you can see this mongoose
attacking an evildoer,...
eating it
and biting its neck off.
What is your take on curses?
People do talk about
the curses...
and there are sometimes
a series of bad luck.
But we also wonder,...
are you producing
your own curse...
by buying into this idea...
and, you know,
making the bad energy present?
Ella: Inspired by ancient tombs
and fed by the recent deaths,...
the curse now
had a life of its own.
Hungry for stories,...
reporters added
ever more names to the list.
Like Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey,...
an Egyptian shot dead
by his wife in London.
Bey had made a visit to the tomb
months before...
and his death was blamed
on the curse.
But what if there
was another reason...
that people linked
to the tomb were dying?
One that medical science
can finally understand.
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: I've come to Luxor,
near the Valley of the Kings...
to visit the house
of Howard Carter.
Bob Bianchi is a world expert
on Carter's discovery.
Can he explain
why in the 1920s...
news of the curse
spread as swiftly as it did?
What do you think
it was specifically...
about the discovery
of Tutankhamun...
that, that captured
the imagination like that?
That made it so popular?
On the one hand,
Europe and America...
...had just emerged from the
horrific First World War.
Bob: And there were
many, many individuals...
who lost a lot of sons,
boyfriends, husbands.
And the discovery
of a dead pharaoh,...
I think, evoked
those kinds of memories.
And it wasn't just World War One.
It was also the Spanish Flu.
Bob: Yes.
Ella: So, you know,...
the big pandemic
of the century.
Well, I think that death
was on everybody's mind...
uh, and, and here you have
a dead individual...
that's immortalized,...
and he's buried
with all of these witches.
And I think that just resonates
with people's sensibilities...
of mourning, grievance
and remembrance.
Ella: The recent war
wasn't the only reason...
death was in the air.
Mysticism and the occult
were growing in popularity.
Above all,
a movement called spiritualism...
which held seances
to talk to the dead.
The most famous spiritualist
in the world...
was the writer,
Arthur Conan Doyle.
Better known as the creator
of Sherlock Holmes.
Bob: Arthur Conan Doyle...
attributed the death
of Lord Carnarvon...
to what he termed
the elementals.
it was a supernatural force...
that was controlled
by the priests...
who were charged
with protecting the dead pharaoh.
And when the tomb
was violated,...
these priests
unleashed those "elementals"...
and wreaked their havoc...
on the person
that intruded on the burial.
Ella: Boosted
by the celebrity author,...
the list of alleged victims
of Tut's curse grew ever longer.
It soon included a British army
officer assassinated in Cairo,...
and Lord Carnarvon's
...who died
of blood poisoning in 1923.
The press was throwing the net
ever wider.
But one clue has caught my eye
from the list of names.
Within just six weeks,...
...two men
who had entered the tomb,...
and George Jay Gould,...
both died
after suffering the same illness.
The lung infection
known as pneumonia.
Could something in the tomb
have caused both infections?
And might medical science
be able to find it?
[Light music playing]
Ella: I've come to London...
to meet an expert
on disease...
in ancient Egypt
and pneumonia,...
Dr. Hutan Ashrafian.
In your opinion,
how did Lord Carnarvon die?
Hutan: Lord Carnarvon
had been exposing himself...
...to many contagious agents
in the environment...
...because he'd go
to dirty cities.
He'd go to dirty tombs.
And he was likely suffering from
chronic obstructive lung disease.
Ella: And so, what is this?
Hutan: So, here we have
a lobe of a lung,...
and this would have been
very similar to the pathology...
that one would have found in
Lord Carnarvon in his final days.
The lung has suffered heavily
from infection and pneumonia,...
and this is where
the airways are.
You can see
that around those airways,...
there's lots
of little sacs,...
and those sacs
are sacs of pus and air.
And the whole lung
looks congested.
It's not allowing people
to breathe properly.
It's not allowing the lung
to clear itself.
So, people would be coughing,
they'd be short of breath.
And this would have led
to bacteria...
going to the bloodstream,...
which would have caused
Ella: As photographs show,...
Lord Carnarvon made
multiple visits to the tomb...
and entered the interior.
Hutan: A tomb can be full
of many contagious agents.
That can include viruses,
that can include bacteria.
And that could be
from moles or fungi.
And entering
into that tomb space,...
one can be exposed
to all of those potential agents.
And as a result,
it can cause lung infections...
that persist
and can cause sepsis and death.
Ella: So, deadly pathogens
from the tomb...
might have infected Lord
Carnarvon and George Jay Gould.
Could this and not the curse...
be the real link
between both men's sudden demise?
The next clue lies far away
in eastern Europe,...
where a string
of mysterious deaths...
leads back
to another opened tomb.
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: In the 1970s,
the Polish city of Krakow...
was rocked
by a chilling scandal.
Without warning,...
a string of archaeologists
and scientists began to die.
The press revealed...
that the men had all visited
the same location.
Wawel Cathedral.
In the years
before the Second World War,...
the cathedral
had fallen into disrepair.
By the 1970s,...
it was in urgent need
of renovation.
But that would mean
disturbing the tomb...
of one of Poland's
greatest kings.
Casimir the fourth Jagiellon.
The decision fell
to Cardinal Wojtyla,...
later to become
Pope John Paul the Second.
He gave permission
to open a tomb...
that had lain undisturbed
for almost 500 years.
Adam Bujak
was a young photographer...
and part of the team
that entered the tomb...
and opened the king's coffin.
[Adam speaking Polish]
They lifted off a slab...
and we saw a heap of rubble.
[Adam speaking Polish]
Translator: The head
of the king was there,...
remains of his body,
remains of his clothing...
and remains of his crown,
that was there.
In all that old rubble.
It was a startling experience.
Ella: Adam's photographs
captured the moment...
the future pope
gazed inside the tomb.
[Adam speaking Polish]
Translator: This is the picture
of the moment...
he leaned forward
and looked at the royal remains.
Ella: I imagine that this is...
a very, very significant
Polish tomb...
that hasn't been opened
for 500 years.
There must have been
some people saying,...
"Is this bad for us
to be disturbing this tomb?"
[Adam speaking Polish]
There was talk of this.
Some people were saying that.
Men of the prelates said,...
"Why should the remains
be disturbed?
Why touch the earthly remains?
They should be left alone."
Evidently, our cardinal
was of a different opinion.
Ella: But religious relics...
weren't all the team found
in the tomb.
The archaeologists said...
that the air
had a thick stench of decay.
Ella: Soon afterwards, the king
was reburied in his tomb.
Ella: TV cameras
recorded a job well done.
Ella: But then,
members of the team...
started to fall seriously ill.
Stefan Wojtyla
died from a bleeding disorder.
Jan Merlack from an aneurysm.
And Felix Danjack
from a cerebral hemorrhage.
In all, over 10 members
of the original team,...
died prematurely.
Rumors began to spread
of a curse.
A punishment
inflicted by the ancient king...
for disturbing his rest.
But during the excavations,...
scientists had taken specimens
for testing.
The samples from the tomb...
were brought to the University
of Agriculture in Krakow...
for analysis.
[Light music playing]
Ella: Back then,
Professor Wieslaw Barabasz...
was a young lab assistant.
He helped analyze
the samples from the tomb.
[Wieslaw speaking Polish]
After collecting the samples,...
they were placed
in this sterile Petri dishes.
These were fragments
of the coffin,...
the robe, the bones...
and some sort
of dust residue that remained.
And we waited for three, four,
five days, six days.
Nothing grew.
So, the professor said,...
"We need to apply
some other technique."
Ella: The scientists
heated the samples.
In one specimen,
containing material...
from the dead king's
knee bone,...
this awoke a fungus...
that had lain dormant
for centuries.
Translator: Among those fungi,
we discovered...
a very interesting,
very specific fungus,...
Aspergillus flavus.
Ella: Aspergillus flavus
is a potentially deadly toxin...
that can attack
weakened lungs.
It can also cause organ failure
and strokes.
The scientists
worked on in the lab.
But then, a journalist
started asking questions.
That journalist came here
to the Jagiellonian Library...
to start his investigation.
When was the first moment
you heard about this story?
[Zbigniew speaking Polish]
Translator: One day,
my friend, Simija Roryk...
came to see me...
and suddenly
told me an amazing thing...
that related
to the Wawel Castle.
Three researchers
from the open tomb...
of Casimir the fourth
Jagiellonian, have died.
So, I immediately called
the microbiologist,...
Professor Bolesaw Smyk.
Professor Smyk told Swiech...
that in the remains
of the knee bone...
he discovered
the deadly fungus,...
Aspergillus flavus.
Swiech thought that this,
not a curse,...
was the cause of the deaths.
And he told the world.
[Zbigniew speaking Polish]
And only after that,...
the whole world got to know
what a nightmare,...
what a terrible thing
Aspergillus flavus could be.
Now Swiech began to wonder...
if the same toxin
could explain another tomb curse.
A story that had begun
nearly 50 years earlier.
So he traveled
to the Valley of the Kings.
To investigate the tomb
of Tutankhamun.
[Foreboding music playing]
Why do you think there was a link
with Tutankhamun?
[Zbigniew speaking Polish]
While studying the materials...
from Tutankhamun's tomb,...
I noticed
the number of deaths in Egypt...
was similar
to the number of deaths...
of the researchers in Krakow.
It was also the first time...
that both tombs were opened
since their funerals.
Ella: And that wasn't
the only link to Tutankhamun.
Aspergillus fungus
grows well on grain.
And Tutankhamun's tomb
contained ample supplies...
of bread and raw grain
as food for the afterlife.
shortly before his death,...
Lord Carnarvon suffered
from an inflammation...
around the nose and eyes.
A potential symptom
of an Aspergillus infection.
So, some deaths
blamed on the curse...
appear to have
another explanation.
To find out more,...
I want to investigate
conditions on the ground...
a century ago for Carter
and his archaeological team.
And for one man in particular,...
who played a central role
in the excavation.
Arthur Mace
was a brilliant archaeologist...
based at the Metropolitan
Museum in New York.
He specialized
in the preservation...
of ancient artifacts.
And in Tut's tomb,...
he was faced with preserving
over 5,000 of them.
Chris: Mace was a contemporary
of Carter's...
and somebody
with a long history...
...of working
on archaeological excavations,...
...somebody who would know
objects very well.
Ella: In Egypt,...
Mace quickly became
Carter's right-hand man.
The two men
obsessively catalogued...
thousands of treasures...
but the work was hard.
Chris: This massive,
extremely delicate task...
doesn't play out
in the luxury of a,...
you know,
an air-conditioned laboratory.
For Carter and Mace,...
this is taking place
in the heat of the desert,...
in the Valley of the Kings,
inside the tomb,...
which is very, very cramped.
And you've got blazing sunshine.
You've got the press,
VIP's getting in your way
all over the place.
were very, very difficult.
[Light music playing]
With temperatures reaching...
over a hundred degrees
Mace and Carter desperately
needed a cool place to work.
Egyptologist Salima Ikram
showed me the tomb...
of another pharaoh
that soon had a new purpose.
Ella: It's incredible.
Salima: It's pretty fantastic.
[Salima laughs]
Ella: But it had another use
at the time of Carter?
Salima: Yes.
Tutankhamun's tomb
was so small and tight...
...that when they removed
the artifacts,...
...they had to take them
somewhere safe...
...and also somewhere
that was close by.
So, this was the lab?
This was the lab.
Ella: What's the process...
of taking care
of those artifacts?
Mace was setting up
this wonderful lab.
Salima: He had a little bit
of a chemistry set...
going down there,...
with Bunsen burners
and all of his chemicals.
Ella: What kind of stuff
were they breathing in?
Well, I mean,
you've got normal dust...
which you can't avoid.
And then anything
that the objects themselves...
were giving off.
They would have had
little gas stoves...
to boil things up
and to test things.
And they didn't have any fans.
He would just be sitting here...
with fumes and dust
and whatever...
and inhaling all of that.
Ella: Mace excavated hundreds
of Tut's treasures.
But his health began to fail
before he had finished the job.
Less than two years
after he arrived,...
he had to leave Egypt.
Like Carnarvon and Gould,
Mace suffered from lung disease.
Four years later, he was dead.
The press quickly blamed
Mace's death on King Tut's curse.
But was there a real connection
between Mace's demise...
and his work
excavating Tut's treasures?
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: I want the medical opinion
of Dr. Hutan Ashrafian.
Ella: Arthur Mace was aware...
of how much dust
was inside the tombs.
What effect would that have had
on his health?
Dust in your airways or lungs,...
...can lead to many, many
chronic diseases.
In Arthur Mace's case,...
the type of dusts that he
would have been exposed to...
include silicon dioxide.
Ella: Saharan sand contains
microscopic quartz crystals,...
known scientifically
as silicon dioxide.
It's found in tombs
and is inhaled...
and it's small enough
to go through the airways.
And so he would have been
readily exposed...
to the problems of silicosis.
And silicosis
is a condition of the lungs.
Foreign bodies
get trapped in the airways...
and the body's
own defense mechanisms...
tries to come in,
clear them from the airways...
and fails to do so.
As a result,
there's these streaming...
of these chemicals
in the body and the cells.
Oh, my gosh.
They fail to heal the lung,...
and the lung then gets scarred
and contracts...
and is unable
to function normally...
and then it results
in a specimen like this.
Ella: And I guess Arthur Mace
was somebody...
who spent years in tombs,
in environments,...
constantly surrounded by dust,
blowing dust off specimens?
Hutan: That was his day job.
Ella: Yeah.
Ella: So, overexposure to these
tiny desert dust particles...
could have been a factor
in Mace's death.
But back in Egypt,...
scientists have made
another discovery.
Silicon dioxide wasn't the only
potentially deadly poison...
in King Tut's tomb.
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: In Cairo,...
at the Egyptian Museum...
are investigating
the treasures found...
in ancient burial chambers.
They've made a discovery...
that could shed light
on the death of Arthur Mace,...
one of the archaeologists
who excavated Tut's tomb.
And an alleged victim
of the pharaoh's curse.
Their investigations focus
on a precious substance...
Mace handled regularly.
Could you just explain to me
what Orpiment is?
Orpiment is a mineral...
...that's found
in the Eastern desert...
...in the Sinai in Egypt.
It was bright and shining
like the sun...
and gold
is the skin of the gods.
And ancient Egyptians
would have taken this mineral,...
ground it up
and made a pigment.
Prized for its yellow color,...
orpiment was used widely
in ancient Egyptian painting.
Including on treasures
in Tut's tomb.
So, what exactly
does Orpiment contain?
To find out, conservator
Mohammad Ahmed Ibrahim,...
sets up a test
called X-ray fluorescence.
The lasers are gonna shoot out
X-rays from the machine.
It's gonna hit the pigments...
and then a unique chemical
signature is gonna bounce back...
and appear
on the computer screens.
Meredith: You just see the peaks
going right now,...
just up and down.
This is incredible.
Ella: This is amazing, yeah.
What's the highest peak?
What's that?
So, that's not
of a massive concern?
That's the next massive peak?
Mohammen: Yes.
Ella: So that's...
Meredith: It's a large quantity
of arsenic in that.
Short-term exposure, probably not
going to cause you death.
But long-term exposure,
that is potentially hazardous.
And Arthur Mace had one habit...
that might have made
his exposure to arsenic...
even more dangerous.
We know from the notes...
that Mace probably did
taste test some of the materials.
Like in the notes, it'll say,
"Oh, it tasted a bit salty."
Why was he taste testing?
That is a mystery to me.
I would certainly not do it.
- Would you taste test?
- No, never.
I am sympathetic to Mace.
They had minimal technology
at that time,...
and you kind of used
whatever you had available.
So, if you wanted to know if
there were salts on something,...
maybe you give
a little taste test...
to figure out
if there's some salts.
[Ominous music playing]
Ella: So poisons in the tomb...
may have caused or hastened
the death of Arthur Mace.
But like Lord Carnarvon...
...and the millionaire,
George Jay Gould before him,...
the press added Mace...
to the list of victims
of King Tut's curse.
Throughout the 1920s,...
Tut's curse
was gripping readers worldwide.
Whilst a frustrated
Howard Carter...
saw the myth as a distraction
from his great discovery.
And made a mockery
of the deaths...
of his closest friends
and colleagues.
He laid the blame
squarely on one man.
Fellow archaeologist,
turned journalist,...
Arthur Weigall.
I'm returning to see
Egyptologist, Bob Bianchi...
to find out more about Weigall
and his role in the curse story.
Howard Carter had a monopoly
with The London Times.
And in order for Weigall
to compete,...
he needed
a compelling other story.
Uh, in other words,
"The Times is reporting this,...
we have to report something
that is not in The Times."
And the parallel story
was to take an opposite, quote...
"Non-scientific tack."
Weigall needed
to generate readership.
And said,
"I'm gonna write it anyway...
because the people eat it up."
Ella: As the years went by,...
Weigall's curse
took on a life of its own.
The media would never give up
on the curse story...
and then the
Couriered Advertiser of 1929,...
...seven years, uh,
after the death of Carnarvon,...
...we read an article
with the headline,...
... "Curse of the Pharaohs."
"Tenth discoverer of the tomb
stricken down."
And the article then goes on
to explain...
...how a Dr. Jonathan Carver
was killed...
in an automobile accident
after having visited the tomb.
And this is yet another attempt
by the media...
to continue the story.
Ella: But in a strange twist,...
Weigall was to become a victim
of the curse myth he created.
The Curse of Arthur Weigall.
Did Mr. Arthur Weigall die
himself as a result of the curse?
Sir Ernest A. Wallace Budge,...
the greatest living
expressed the following
opinion to me yesterday.
"It is my firm belief
that Arthur Weigall died...
the unfortunate victim
of a curse.
It was not perhaps
any royal curse...
but one self-induced."
There's no love lost
between those two.
Uh, "Mr. Weigall died
in a London hospital...
as a result of hashish eating
and addiction to other drugs."
Ella: Could you imagine today...
publishing something like this
in essentially an obituary?
Ella: Budge's drug allegations
were false.
Seemingly motivated...
by a bitter professional
rivalry with Weigall.
The Express newspaper apologized.
But their attempt to link yet
another death to Tut's curse...
was proof of the myth's grip
on the public imagination.
As the curse stories
got wilder,...
a surprising new rumor
also emerged in the press.
That the hidden killer
behind these deaths...
wasn't supernatural
but scientific.
A rumor that this time,
Howard Carter couldn't ignore.
Carter rejected the theory.
He thought
the 3,000-year-old tomb...
was too ancient
to contain anything living.
And he enlisted scientists
to prove it.
In 1925, Carter opened
Tut's sarcophagus...
for the very first time.
He shared swabs
taken from the mummy...
with British microbiologists.
Chris: This little report
in a newspaper...
of the examination of some
of the bandages from the tomb,...
...which was not undertaken
by Carter himself...
...but by a Dr. A.C. Thaysen,...
with Carter's blessing,...
revealed that the bandages
from Tutankhamun's mummy...
were found to contain
no bacteria.
And this short report
makes it very clear...
that this survey or this study
was undertaken,...
in order
to disprove those ideas.
Carter wanted a robust,
scientific denial...
so as to just knock it
on the head.
You know, just get rid of it.
Ella: But science
has come on a long way...
in the century
since Tutankhamun was found.
Using modern technology,...
we're now going
to replicate those tests.
In search of deadly microbes...
Carter's scientists
might have missed.
So, we need
a recently excavated burial site.
Most of the Valley of the Kings
has been picked clean...
and is now a tourist center.
So, I'm traveling
400 miles north...
to a place
where archaeologists...
have been uncovering a network
of undisturbed Egyptian tombs.
Ella: Saqqara was first excavated
in the 19th century.
But over recent years,...
archaeologists have discovered
dozens of new tombs.
[Indistinct chatter]
We've been granted access...
to one
of the newly opened tombs.
And like Carter, we're going
to conduct microbial tests...
on an ancient mummy
they've found.
Whilst the team prepare,...
I want to see what makes
Saqqara such a sacred place.
The necropolis basks in the glory
of Egypt's first great monument.
The Step Pyramid of Djoser.
Built over four and a half
thousand years ago...
and standing
at 200 feet tall,...
it was the final resting place
of the Pharaoh Djoser.
Ella: Wow. This is incredible.
[Foreboding music playing]
Egyptologist, Dr. Bob Bianchi,...
is taking me
into the heart of the pyramid.
Following in the footsteps
of ancient tomb raiders.
We're down in the original shaft.
And then we think
this barricaded piece...
is one of the robber shafts.
And we think that they got
stymied as they came down here...
and so they made
a right-hand turn...
and this is what we think
is a robber shaft...
that they cut to the right.
That proved to be futile,...
so they probably came back
and continued down here.
Ella: The descent
takes us past chapels...
designed to be used
by the pharaoh in the afterlife.
[Ominous music playing]
Ella: It's just tunnel
upon tunnel isn't it, really?
I think we've basically entered
the set of Indiana Jones.
Bob: Yes.
Ella: We have no idea
what's happening right or left.
Bob: Yeah, exactly.
Ella: At the secret heart
of the pyramid,...
we emerge
into Djoser's burial chamber.
[Ella laughing]
Bob: That's actually
breathtaking, huh?
Ella: This is incredible.
Bob: We're looking
at the sarcophagus...
in which Djoser was buried.
It is made of individual blocks
of red granite from Aswan.
Uh, several hundred miles
to the south.
Ella: I just need
to show people something.
These aren't
small pieces of brick.
Two blocks for the whole of this.
It's mad.
The first thing
that comes into my mind...
is how labor-intensive it is.
that they cut the shaft...
and then the ingenuity to be
able to lower all of these...
and whether
they were doing it with ropes,...
or some people think
that they might have had sand,...
lower it on the sand...
and they pull the sand away
and it's kind of like lowered.
And then you're dealing
in that dark space,...
it's like a coal mine,...
and then you have
to understand...
that, how did
they illuminate...
the tunnel
that they're digging?
And we're assuming that was done
with lamps and oil.
Djoser's pyramid was designed...
by a talented statesman
and architect...
known as Imhotep.
Born over four and a half
thousand years ago,...
Imhotep wasn't a pharaoh...
but such were
his spectacular achievements...
that after his death,
he was worshipped as a god.
This step pyramid is surrounded
by dozens of crumbling tombs...
and smaller monuments.
But Djoser's tomb was planned
on a vastly different scale.
And Imhotep built it to last.
Bob: "I wanna make
a monument for eternity,...
wattle and daub
are perishable materials,...
they will not survive.
But I know that stone...
is the most durable element
in my landscape...
and if I can create
a mortuary monument in stone,...
it will live forever."
Djoser's pyramid still stands.
However, his mortal remains...
were stolen
by the ancient thieves.
But just
a few hundred feet away...
we're about to carry out
microbial tests...
on a mummy they missed.
Could it hold clues
to a scientific explanation...
behind King Tut's curse?
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: I'm searching for evidence
of deadly pathogens...
in ancient Egyptian tombs.
Toxic microbes
that could have killed the men...
who explored Tutankhamun's
burial chamber a century ago.
Near the pyramids of Saqqara,...
a team is excavating
an ancient necropolis.
It has a network of tombs
with astonishing wall paintings.
But far more important
for my investigation,...
it contains something else.
Ancient burials.
Could they hold clues...
to a scientific explanation
behind King Tut's curse?
To find out, heritage scientist
Dr. Abdelrazek Elnaggar,...
is conducting
microbial analysis...
on the remains they've found.
And he has
the perfect sample to test.
A mummy
that's over 2,000 years old.
Ella: What are you looking for
on this particular mummy?
A little bit overwhelming...
to actually see a mummy
so close.
Because you can clearly see...
the imprint of the nose
and the mouth.
And it's just a reminder of,
this is a real human being.
Looking into the past like this
it's quite incredible.
Ella: Oh, yeah, yeah.
The tiny white spots suggest...
there may be ancient mold
on the mummy.
Ella: Is that my imagination...
or is that some on the nose
and, and mouth?
Abdelrazek: Yes, yeah.
Oh, this is quite emotional.
That means that somebody
has buried this individual...
with flowers.
That's a very emotional thing to,
to lay on a body and it's... Oh.
Ella: Oh so it might not just be
a spiritual,...
Ella: Oh right, right.
So, it might have
a very practical purpose, yeah.
Ella: Almost a century ago,
Howard Carter asked experts...
to test samples
from Tutankhamun's mummy,...
to quash a rumor that
it contained deadly pathogens.
But they found no evidence
of living microbes.
Now could our modern day tests...
uncover pathogens
that Carter's scientists missed?
Ella: That's the second time...
I've heard the name
Aspergillus flavus.
Earlier in my journey,
I visited Poland...
where 10 people
reportedly died...
after entering the tomb
of an ancient king.
The deaths were linked back
to a toxic mold...
found on the king's body.
Aspergillus flavus.
This same deadly mold...
can be found
on ancient Egyptian mummies.
Could the mold have caused...
some of the deaths
linked to King Tut's curse?
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: Using modern technology,...
we have discovered
a deadly mold...
living on ancient mummies.
Aspergillus flavus.
Could it provide a scientific
explanation for King Tut's curse?
To find out,
I'm heading back to London,...
to show Dr. Hutan Ashrafian.
This is a plate
from the body in Egypt.
And clearly,
it's growing a fungus.
This is classical Aspergillus.
They live on dead bodies
or decaying matter.
And so nearly every human
environment will have them.
They can cause
lung infections,...
but we are only prone
to suffering disease from them...
when we get either exposed
to a high dose...
or our immune system
is weakened.
So, from a tomb in Egypt
where ancient mummies existed,...
the exposure
of Aspergillus is there.
And as a result,
when we look back...
at the characters
such as Mace, Carnarvon,...
George Jay Gould,...
who would have been
in the tomb of Tutankhamun,...
they would have also
been exposed to Aspergillus.
It could cause fevers,
it can cause pneumonias,...
and can cause sepsis
and death.
After entering Tut's tomb,...
George Jay Gould
contracted a fever.
Arthur Mace, a lung infection,...
and Lord Carnarvon,...
pneumonia with inflammation
of the nose and eyes.
All symptoms
of Aspergillus flavus exposure.
These men
had a variety of ailments...
but Aspergillus poisoning
fits as a cause...
or contributing factor
to their deaths.
How much was known about
all of this in the 1920s?
The understanding of biology
and infectious disease...
had begun in the 1920s.
But it wasn't known
to archaeologists.
And when Carter,
Carnarvon, uh, Mace...
would have entered the tomb
and worked in that space,...
the risks
they were thinking of,...
were the different authorities
and their competitors...
to finding that tomb,...
rather than themselves
being exposed to biology...
as a potential pathogen.
So, Howard Carter was wrong.
Ancient Egyptian tombs remains...
do contain
potentially lethal pathogens.
A hundred years on,
it's impossible to prove...
that Carnarvon, Gould and Mace
were victims of Aspergillus.
Egypt in the 1920s
was rife with disease...
but for me, it seems
a tantalizing coincidence...
that all three men
contracted lung infections...
after entering
Tutankhamun's tomb.
And we may finally have
a scientific explanation...
for King Tut's curse.
For dig foreman, Mahmoud,...
whose great grandfather
excavated Tut's tomb,...
the risk of opening ancient
burials comes as no surprise.
Don't shave?
Yeah, and you need three to four
days before you start working?
Like a microbe or something
might go into the cut?
But back in Carter's time though,
they didn't do that?
Ella: Carter continued his work
on Tut's tomb for a decade.
Whilst the curse story
just got bigger.
He watched on angrily...
as the press concocted
ever more sensational tales.
And as the years went by,...
he battled them
the only way he could.
Obsessive hard work.
Bob: Carter was tenacious.
You have to admire him.
He was completely consumed
in his professional activity.
It's estimated that there were
5,300 objects in that tomb.
There was every obstacle
put in Carter's way...
...to prevent him
from finishing the task...
of registering those tombs.
And he took it upon himself
to get them out.
To photograph them.
And to conserve them.
And we, a hundred years after
the discovery of the tomb,...
have to recognize
how indebted we are.
Thanks to Carter's dedication,...
the treasures of the tomb were
preserved for millions to enjoy.
But the more
I've investigated this story,...
the more I've started
to wonder...
if the true curse
of Tutankhamun...
lies not in ancient spells
or toxic remains...
but a curse of obsession.
An obsession
that was contagious...
and would come to consume
not just Carter...
but the life of one
of his young assistants,...
who set out to eclipse
the find of the century...
with a discovery
to rival Tutankhamun.
Walter Brian Emery
was in his early 20's...
when he joined Carter's dig
in the Valley of the Kings.
Chris: Emery was a young,
aspiring archaeologist.
And a little bit like Carter,...
he hadn't had
a scholarly training.
But he was present at some
of the most important stages...
in the process
of Carter's work.
Ella: Emery was there...
when Carter opened
the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun.
Chris: There's no question...
that Emery was inspired
by Carter and his discovery...
...and perhaps, there was
a part of him as well...
...that saw, um, the celebrity...
that kind of fell on Carter
and the attention.
Perhaps there was
a little part of him...
that wanted a part of that.
Emery set out to find the tomb...
of one of the most famous
figures in Egyptian history.
The architect-turned-god,
This very striking array
of bronze figurines here...
represents a good part
of the pantheon...
of gods and goddesses...
that were worshipped
in ancient Egypt.
And in amongst all of these,
there is a figure...
third from left
at the front here,...
of a seated male individual
with a shaven head,...
opening out a papyrus role,
which is a pose that conveys...
the sense of wisdom
and learning, great knowledge.
And this is Imhotep.
He is among the most important
deities in Egypt...
and by extension,
in the ancient world.
Ella: Imhotep was the architect
of the Step Pyramid of Djoser,...
that I visited earlier.
And Emery believed
he would be found nearby.
Footage filmed in the 1960s...
showed how he uncovered
a series of extraordinary tombs.
Including mummified falcons
and other sacred creatures.
Like Carter, Emery spent years...
obsessively searching
beneath the dunes.
Chris: There are, I think,
great parallels between the two.
They both had an interest...
in making a great
headline-grabbing discovery.
Carter, against the advice
of his colleagues,...
was able to persevere...
and eventually was rewarded
and proven to be right.
Emery was perhaps thinking,
you know,...
the same thing's
happening here.
Ella: Unlike Carter's,
Emery's obsession didn't pay off.
Despite scouring Saqqara
for 40 years,...
in 1971,
he collapsed on a dig and died.
Half a century on,...
Imhotep's tomb still lies
hidden beneath the sands.
For Howard Carter, that same
tomb-hunting obsession...
would also consume
the rest of his life.
After a decade spent
excavating the boy king,...
Carter went after
an even greater prize.
The tomb of Alexander the Great.
[Foreboding music playing]
Ella: By 1932,
Howard Carter's excavations...
in the Valley of the Kings
were complete.
But his obsession for
tomb-hunting was undiminished...
and he went after
an even greater prize.
The tomb of Alexander the Great.
Chris: I think this speaks to
a really, really interesting...
...and little-known aspect
of the last years...
...of, of Carter's career.
You know, we all know
that he makes...
...his great discovery
in the Valley of the Kings.
What's not so well-known,...
is that Carter apparently,
wasn't going to stop there.
This tells us
that Mr. Howard Carter...
who discovered the tomb
of Tutankhamun,...
is convinced
that Alexander the Great...
is buried in Alexandria.
He hopes to search
for the tomb...
when he secures
the necessary funds.
Ella: Alexander the Great
was an ancient Greek king,...
who built one of the biggest
empires in history.
So, Howard Carter
has basically...
been behind
the find of the century.
And then,
he decides it's not enough.
And actually, he wants to go
looking for Alexander the Great.
Chris: Numerous sources
suggest that Carter...
felt he knew where the tomb...
of Alexander the Great
was going to be found.
Ella: I guess, knowing loads
of archaeologists,...
it's actually weird...
if one of them finds
something really big...
and then goes,
"Alright, I'm done."
Like you name one.
You name one that has found
something really significant...
and then gone,
"You know what, lads,...
I'm good."
They don't.
So, perhaps, in some way,...
Chris: he's kind of a gambler.
Ella: Yeah.
He's an archaeological gambler
and we know that, you know,...
part of the make-up
of a gambler...
is that it's difficult to stop
even when you've won.
So, yeah, perhaps,
perhaps he really did think,...
"One final throw of the dice.
You know, I have done this
but actually, there's more."
Ella: This time,
Carter wasn't so lucky.
He never got the chance
to search for Alexander.
And despite
discovering Tutankhamun,...
as the years went by,
the glory faded.
And he never found
the recognition he deserved.
If you read everything
written about him,...
...if you read everything that
Carter wrote about himself,...
you found out that he is
a very, very isolated...
lonely individual.
And he was never able to bask...
in the spotlight of glory
for what he did.
He never got a royal reception.
He was never invited
to a red carpet event.
He was always shunted aside.
Howard Carter
is a very, very tragic figure,...
a figure that maybe should be
more lamented than he really is.
You have this individual...
whose fame
is all over the place today.
But during his lifetime,
he never enjoyed it.
And when he died,...
no one attended the burial.
[Birds tweeting]
[Somber music playing]
Ella: Howard Carter died
on the 2nd of March, 1939.
Newspapers recorded just five
mourners at the funeral.
Ella: This is a man
who was famous for discovering...
...a tomb full of treasures,...
but this
is his final resting place.
It's actually quite humble.
It just reads,
"Howard Carter, Egyptologist,...
Discoverer of the tomb
of Tutankhamun."
But actually, that fits
with how he led his life.
Howard Carter
was not this showman.
He was always an outsider.
But he had all these
other attributes and qualities.
He was determined.
He did not give up.
He had an absolute obsession
with detail.
And it was that combination...
that led him back
to the Valley of the Kings...
when everybody else had
given up to discover the tomb...
that would completely
transform archaeology.
[Somber music playing]
Ella: In the century since
Tut's tomb was first opened,...
that glittering discovery
has deepened our fascination...
and our obsession
with ancient Egypt.
Today, toxic mold
finally offers...
a plausible
scientific explanation...
for deaths once blamed
on the curse of Tutankhamun.
But Tut's tomb
has had a far greater legacy...
than this dark legend.
Ella: Tutankhamun's tomb...
is a love letter
to archaeology,...
to exploration,
to discovery and to graft.
It's the thing that most of us
dream of finding...
but know
we probably never will.
But Tut's tomb,...
it's proof
of what is possible.
It exists,...
...and therefore, it's the reason
why archaeologists,...
...every single year
head out into the desert.
to Howard Carter's obsession,...
...a new generation
is looking for wonders...
...for us to understand.
And so, on any given dig,
maybe, just maybe,...
...the next big discovery
lies just beneath the sands.
[Majestic music playing]