Reading, 35

You are going to read an article about the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. For questions 8 – 15, choose the answer A, B, C or D which you think fits best according to the text.



On 12 February 1924, Howard Carter, amateur archaeologist, watched a pulley winch open a sarcophagus. He was about to witness a sight unseen for thousands of years: the face of a Pharaoh of Egypt.

The story of how the tomb with its riches and the mummified body of Tutankhamen was discovered is well known and there is no doubt that without Carter’s enthusiasm and determination the most exclusive cemetery in the world would not have been discovered. What is more debatable, however, is the truth surrounding the supposed Curse of Tutankhamen.

After discovering the tomb, Carter refused to enter it until his patron Lord Carnarvon was by his side. It was, after all, Carnarvon’s generosity which had allowed Carter to carry out his ambition of finding an unplundered tomb. They were awestruck at the contents of the chamber and in the dead of night, returned to the tomb to observe the wonders that the chamber held. It was this secret entry that supposedly caused the anger of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

A few days after the official opening ofthe burial chamber, Lord Carnarvon accidentally cut a mosquito bite on his cheek while shaving. It became septic, and Lord Carnarvon came down with a fever. A couple of weeks later he died of pneumonia. As he breathed his last breath, it is said that all the lights across Cairo flickered and went out. Bizarrely, at the same moment back in England, his beloved dog howled, then dropped dead. It was immediately claimed by the newspapers that Lord Carnarvon had been the victim of a curse. Rumours of even more mysterious circumstances began to circulate. It was said that on the day of the discovery, Carter’s pet canary had been eaten by a cobra, the same serpent which is portrayed on the brow of a Pharaoh spitting poison.

It was also claimed that a mysterious inscription had been found near the tomb, warning that ‘Death will come on swift wings to whosoever touches the tomb of the Pharaoh’, although it was acknowledged that these words had strangely vanished. The death of anyone associated with the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb was used as proof of the Curse.

To a public raised on the exotic novels of Rider Haggard and Wilkie Collins this was very exciting. But, in reality, if the Pharaoh was seeking revenge on those who had desecrated his tomb, then he was very selective. Above all, he seems to have spared the life of the most obvious candidate for his revenge – Howard Carter himself. Even scientific attempts to argue that the Curse was true – for instance, theories that there were deadly microbes in the tomb, or poisonous fungi – must founder on that one conclusive fact. It is no wonder that Carter himself was so contemptuous when asked about the Curse – “The answer”, he would reply, “is spherical and in the plural”. Instead of dying in premature and mysterious circumstances, Carter in fact lived for 17 years after his incredible discovery. Yet one great mystery, which Carter himself was powerless to solve, continues to exist. There was barely any evidence found which could shed light on Tutankhamen himself. His reign remains a mystery; his character even more so. Although there have been numerous autopsies on his mummy, we cannot even be certain what caused his death – it has been suggested that he was murdered or killed in battle. As Carter was forced to confess, “the mystery of his life eludes us – the shadows move, but the dark is never quite dispersed” .

All we can be certain of is that Tutankhamen, like any Egyptian, would have craved the remembrance which it was believed gave a spirit true life after death. Forgotten for over three thousand years, the boy king’s name is now famous allover the world. Thanks to the efforts of Howard Carter, Tutankhamen has true immortality at last.

8.-Why did Carter refuse to enter the tomb after discovering it?

A He was afraid of dying.

B He didn’t want to do it alone.

C He wanted to go in with Lord Carnarvon.

D He wanted to wait for the daylight.

9.-How did Lord Carnarvon die?

A of a mosquito bite

B shaving himself

C of pneumonia

D of high fever

10.-It was claimed by the newspapers that Lord Carnarvon

A had been the victim of a murder.

B had died because of a curse.

C had been eaten by a cobra.

D had been poisoned.

11.-What was the Curse associated with?

A spitting poison

B giant cobras

C strange deaths

D swift wings

12.-What does ‘this’ in line 30 refer to?

A the Curse

B the exotic novel

C the Pharaoh

D death

13.-What does the writer imply about the Curse?

A If it were true, Carter was the one who should have died.

B It was all invented by R. Haggard & W. Collins to sell their novels.

C It was true since a lot of people who opened the tomb died.

D The Pharaoh chose who would die.

14.-What did Carter believe?

A He believed in the Curse.

B He believed the true mystery was Tutankhamen himself.

C He believed he was lucky not to have died of the Curse.

D He believed that there was some scientific truth in the Curse.

15.-What did the ancient Egyptians believe?

A Remembering a dead person made him/her immortal.

B A spirit should be left in peace after death.

C True immortality comes after thousands of years.

D A dead person should be buried and forgotten.

Check your answers here


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