Wikipedia defines a mummy as "a deceased human or animal whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or accidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack of air, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry conditions."
Whereas mummies have been found on every continent, the most well-known are Egyptian. Some of these Egyptian mummies are also said to bring curses on those that disturb their slumber. And why not? What other culture is so unbelievably old, mysterious and romantic all at the same time? But are these curses real, or are they merely a fabrication of Hollywood and the media?
A National Geographic article called "Curse of the Mummy" details some facts about mummies and their curses.
Through an expedition funded by Lord Carnarvon, the tomb of King Tut was discovered in 1922. Howard Carter was the first person to take a look at the treasures of the tomb, and he set off quite the trend for Ancient Egypt. Because Carnarvon died of blood poisoning and six other members of the excavation team also died within a decade, talk of curses ensued.
But what do Egyptologists think of these curses?
Salima Ikram (American University in Cairo) thinks that stories of curses were used in Ancient Egypt to scare away grave robbers. Dominic Montserrat thought that a writer may have seen a play where authentic Egyptian mummies were unwrapped. This writer probably wrote a story about what they saw, then another writer wrote something similar, then another...you get the idea.
A scientific take on mummies and curses states that the Egyptian tombs may have been shut up for so many years, that they produced dangerous pathogens. Most scientists, however, think this is just not the case. In fact, it has been said that the conditions of Upper Egypt in the 1920s were so unsanitary that those conditions would have been more likely to kill a person than anything shut up in a tomb.
What's my take on mummies and their curses, you ask?
I think it's easy to see a leathery-like body laying in a museum (or on a table, or elsewhere) and think about sinister, creepy, evil things like curses. But I also think that curses only have power over those that believe in them. Do you know the saying "careful what you wish for?" Well, if you spend all your time thinking of curses, you will be cursed. Instead, try focusing your thoughts on positive things. If you do good and wish for good, you will find that good things will come your way, and things like curses will start to sound very silly to you.