A black sarcophagus in Egypt revealed neither the remains of Alexander the Great nor curses protecting it, authorities say. Folks in Russia know about great conquerors and curses – one may even have triggered the Nazi invasion.
Many powerful people in the past were obsessed with their posterity, having items and servants buried along with them to serve in the afterlife and curses put on their tombs to strike whoever dared to open them and steal the treasures. The best known case of mysterious death attributed to such magic is the curse of the pharaohs, which supposedly struck the excavation team that unsealed the burial place of Tutankhamen.
The exhumation of a black 30-ton sarcophagus in Egypt this week was surrounded by speculation. Some said it could contain the remains of Alexander the Great, arguably the greatest conqueror of the ancient world, whose untimely death sealed the fate of the empire he carved out from the Mediterranean to India. Some said opening it would bring no good.
The unsealing of the sarcophagus on Thursday involved a heavy police cordon and an evacuation from the area, but apparently brought no sensation. Archeologists said they found some floodwater inside, and after it was pumped out, the mummified remains of three people were revealed, probably belonging to a wealthy family in Alexandria. No curses befell the team, the report stressed. So it’s all good now, right?
Russia had its brush with a tomb-sealing curse, and it turned out to be far more devastating than that of the pharaohs. In fact, it claimed millions of lives, if the legend is to be believed. It started in 1941 in Samarkand, where an archeological expedition was working on the excavation of the family crypt of Timur the Lame, the 14th-century conqueror of Mongolian origin who started an empire spanning from Persia to the Caucasus Mountains, to what is now Turkey, with Samarkand as the capital.
Ignoring warnings from the locals, scientists exhumed the bodies of Timur’s descendants and then his own. Inscribed on the tomb were reportedly the words: “When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble,” and inside the casket the scientists read: “Whomsoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.” The entire work lasted four days, and Timur’s remains were revealed on June 20. Two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
The legend does not stop there. It is said that the remains of Timur were reburied in November 1942, days before the Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest in history, was finally won by the Soviets, and the Nazi campaign started to crumble.
Of course, Hitler’s generals launched their preparations for the invasion long before the expedition in Samarkand started. It is also well-known that the Nazi leader and some of his associates were obsessed with all things mystical, hunting for ancient artifacts of power throughout the world. Just ask Indiana Jones.
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