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Egyptologist Claims He Suffered Mystery Illness After Opening Ancient Egyptian Tomb

"Whether it was a mummy curse or not, something in that tomb got me."

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

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An ancient Egyptian crypt.

A crypt in the Great Step Pyramid.

Image credit: diy13/shutterstock.com

An Egyptologist has claimed he suffered a mystery illness that left him hallucinating and coughing up blood after opening an Ancient Egyptian tomb.

Filmmaker and Egyptologist Ramy Romany told The Jordan Harbinger Show he had become ill after opening up a tomb for the Discovery Channel TV show Mummies Unwrapped in 2019.

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"While we were shooting Mummies Unwrapped, I came the closest to death I've ever been," he said in an earlier interview with the Khaleej Times. The team had been filming an episode about mummified remains, which people had claimed belonged to a biblical figure.

"While we're filming that, we went into a tomb that hadn't been opened for years. We unlocked the door and the locals would stay away first to make sure there weren't any snakes or any curses. Not believing in curses, we just went straight through down staircases. The tomb was endless. We kept going down and it's quite dusty. And I was breathing it all in. And that day, I was walking back to Cairo and I started not feeling well. 

The next morning, I had fevers so high. I've never had that high a fever in my life. I was at 107°F [42°C] and I started coughing blood. They got doctors for me. I nearly died."

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According to Romany, the tomb had not been opened for about 600 years. In an interview with Jordan Harbinger, he added that the fever brought on hallucinations. His doctors placed him on antibiotics, figuring the cause to be bats, snakes, or dust from inside the tomb.

Romany does not believe in the so-called "curse" of the Pharaohs, but said that there was a "scientific" truth to it. While the idea that Ancient Pharaohs placed a curse on all who disturb their slumber is of course nonsense, fungal pathogens have been found inside ancient tombs. Though a study looked at those who had opened Egyptian tombs and found no suspicious amount of mortality, it has been theorized that Lord Carnarvon – supposedly a victim of the "curse" – could have been infected with fungal pathogen Aspergillus acquired when opening the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Romany lived to tell the tale, though he is still unsure what the illness was in the first place.

"Finally, four days later I recovered, but it was close," he told the Khaleej Times. "Whether it was a mummy curse or not, something in that tomb got me."

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