Lesson Plan - Get It!
Do you believe that curses truly exist? Do you knock on wood for good luck? Do you run away from black cats? Do you avoid walking under ladders? These are popular superstitions to avoid being cursed. Don't believe? Click through the activities to learn about real and historically-documented curses! They can shake even the strongest non-believers.
What do an Ancient Pharaoh and the Philadelphia Phillies have in common?
They have both been famously cursed in a notorious way.
Among the many unexplained phenomena of the world, one concept that connects people of all cultures and across many centuries is that of the existence of curses.
Curses, which are supernatural protections that cause harm to “enemies,” have been reported from the Ancient Egyptians to modern-day professional sports teams. Two prime examples, detailed below, include suspicious events and deaths that cause even the strongest disbelievers to at least consider the possibility.
While reading, pay attention to vocabulary.
- Are there any words that you do not know?
If so, take note of them as you read. Looking up unfamiliar words while reading is a great way to boost your vocabulary! After you are finished reading, ask yourself, "Do I believe in curses? Did this information persuade me?"
The curse of King Tutankhamen's tomb
During the time of Ancient Egypt, pharaohs were mummified and buried in tombs after their death. Pharaohs were considered to be gods. Therefore, to protect the sanctity of these tombs, the curse of the pharaohs was cast on anyone who dared to disturb the tomb of an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Those who did not heed the warning would experience bad luck and suffer illness, or even death. This curse is most often discussed with reference to the tomb of King Tutankhamen.
King Tutankhamen, or King Tut, is one of history’s most famous Ancient Egyptian pharaohs. King Tut died in 1323 BC, and his tomb was discovered and opened by Howard Carter on November 29, 1922. However, once the tomb was opened, many unexplained and deadly events started to happen. The first was Lord Carnarvon, who funded the expedition to the tomb. Lord Carnarvon died from blood poisoning caused by a mosquito bite a mere four months after he helped open King Tut’s tomb. In 1925, Carter gave a paperweight from the tomb to his friend Bruce Ingram. It included the inscription, “cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water, and pestilence.” In a suspicious turn of events, Ingram’s house burned down shortly after receiving this gift and then was flooded after he rebuilt it. In the first 10 years after King Tut’s tomb was open, 11 people who were part of the excavation died, adding further fuel to the curse’s fire.
While the curse of the pharaohs was cast thousands of years ago, a more recent curse affected an entire city’s ability to win national championships across multiple sports teams.
The William Penn curse
William Penn founded Pennsylvania in the late 1600s. In his honor, the city of Philadelphia built a bronze statue of him to sit atop City Hall. The statue was constructed in 1894, and a “gentlemen’s agreement” stated that no building should be taller than the William Penn statue. However, in 1987, the One Liberty Place skyscraper was built taller than William Penn by 397 ft. Before this, Philadelphia sports teams in the 1980s had high winning streaks, but that all changed. After the building of One Liberty Place, Philadelphia sports teams saw record losses and decades of poor team performances, which caused many to feel that the city was cursed by William Penn for disrespecting his statue.
The curse was broken in 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series; however, many speculate that it was due to rectifying the wrong that caused the curse. In 2007, when the Comcast Center built the tallest building in the entire city, taller even than One Liberty Place, the workers placed a William Penn figurine at the top to make a William Penn statue the tallest point in the city once more. Due to this, the power of the curse still lives on in some people’s minds.
Continue to the Got It? section to test your reading and your vocabulary knowledge!