The obsession which the ancient Egyptians had with the other world seems to have created
powerful supernatural forces which have lasted for thousands of years. Some of the more
sinister and potent ghostly activity reported in modern times stems from Ancient Egypt, whose
ageless hauntings have spanned fifty centuries and more.
The Cult of the Dead, which originated in India, reached its apotheosis in Egypt. At first
the Egyptians believed that only members of the royal family and certain chosen companions
were privileged to enjoy eternal life. Later the hereafter became democratized and at first nobles
and high officials, and finally 'all good men' were permitted through the eternal gates.
It is strange that, for all their preoccupation with eternity, the Egyptians never evolved a
sophisticated religion. They were not however alone in considering life on earth merely as a
brief preparation for the great hereafter. Their chief god became Osiris, who ruled the region of
the dead and who was believed to have fathered all the Pharaohs. The Egyptians were so
obsessed with this Cult of the Dead that they turned the teeming and fruitful valley of the Nile
into a place devoted to the dead.
They believed that a soul could not enter the blessed region of Osiris unless his body
remained intact in the place where he had lived on earth, and therefore very great importance
was placed upon the preservation of he body and the inviolability of the tomb. To despoil a
tomb and remove a mummy from its coffin was to the Egyptians an act of terrible desecration.
The awful and solemn ceremonies which took place at the entombment included the most terrible
curses on the tomb-breakers, and these curses were inscribed upon the walls of the death
In view of the intensity of their feeling on this subject, it is not surprising that we hear
stories of sprits disturbed in their eternal rest by the despoliation of their earthly tombs, perhaps
many thousands of years after their burial, and returning to earth to seek vengeance.
The dread inscriptions on the tombs were supposed to have an especial potency owing to
the deep belief the ancient Egyptians had in the magic of the written word. They believed that
the very act of writing down the curses would ensure their effectiveness.
Such imprecations were made at the rich and splendid funeral of Tutenkhamen in the
middle of the fourteenth century B.C. This unimportant sovereign was only eighteen at the time
of his death. He was the son-in-law and successor of Akhnaton, one of the most remarkable of
all the Pharaohs.
Both the splendor of Tutenkhamen's unspoiled tomb and his father-in-law's religious
convictions, which shook Egypt to its foundations, had strange echoes in the twentieth century,
with stories which suggested that those ancient Nile curses had a remarkable and far-reaching
Akhnaton forsook the ancient gods of Egypt-including the sacred Osiris-and worshiped
the sun-god Aton. He abandoned Thebes, the magnificent city of the god Ammon, and
transferred the country's religious center to Al Amarna in the plain of Hermopolis, where he
built splendid temples to Aton.
But the ancient religion was not readily abandoned by the ordinary superstitious
Egyptians, and the old priesthood, though temporarily dispossessed and forced to remain silent,
worked relentlessly in the background against the heretic Pharaoh.
Akhnaton is regarded by many as an enlightened prophet who foresaw the truth of
monotheism, an inspired intellectual in an age of priest-ridden superstition. His Queen was the
beautiful and famous Nefertiti. Akhnaton had no son, but six daughters who constantly appeared
with him in the religious ceremonies at Amarna. Entirely wrapped up in his religious activities,
Akhnaton neglected his country and lost his empire in Syria, which fell to the Hittite hordes,
while Akhnaton wrote poems to Aton.
He had made many enemies in Egypt, where a dangerous situation was brewing. In an
attempt to combat this, he married his eldest daughter to the young Tutenkhamen, one of his
favorites, and whom he appointed co-regent with himself when the boy was merely twelve years
Akhnaton was faced with family as well as national dissension. It seems certain that his
Queen Nefertiti fell into disfavor, for it has been discovered that her name was removed from
some of the family monuments at Amarna. The inference is that the family trouble was
religious. This was reinforced by another more sensational story which was told later.
One of Akhnaton's daughters turned violently against her father over the religious
question. Akhnaton is said to have treated her with shocking brutality and had her raped and
killed. His priests then cut off her right hand and buried it secretly in the Valley of the Kings.
As she had reverted to the old religion, this would effectively exclude her from entering the
blessed region of Osiris as her body was not intact as her burial.
Akhnaton did not live for long, dying in 1358 B.C. in the seventeenth year of his reign,
and at about the age of thirty. His son-in-law, Tutenkhamen, succeeded him and reigned for
about six years and was consigned to his magnificent and famous tomb.
The hand of his sister-in-law remained buried in the secret place in the Valley of the
Kings under a curse that it was never to be re-united to the body of the princess, who was thus
excluded from paradise. For more than three thousand years apparently the princess awaited at
the gates of Osiris, her inexhaustible vigil being finally rewarded in a remarkable, if incredible,
The story was told by Count Louis Hamon, a well-known occultist of the day, that in the
1890s he was in Luxor where he became friendly with one of the local sheikhs. The sheikh
caught malaria and Hamon was able to cure him. The sheikh expressed his gratitude by
presenting to him a mummified hand which, he said, had belonged to a princess of Ancient
Egypt, the daughter of Akhnaton, who had been killed and mutilated for opposing her father's
heretical religious faith.
This curious gift did not in any way repulse Count Hamon, who had a great interest in the
religion of ancient Egypt, the priests of which he believed possessed knowledge and power
undreamed of by modern man. He thanked the grateful sheikh and added the mummified hand
of the princess to his treasures and curiosities which he had collected during his world travels in
search of the unknown and the unfathomable.
In the 1920s Hamon and his wife were living in England, and in 1922 he noticed that the
hand which had been shriveled and mummified for the last thirty-two centuries began to soften
and to his amazement and incredulity blood appeared in the veins under the skin.
Hamon and his wife were not unnaturally disturbed at this miraculous development. The
count was well acquainted with the workings of the occult, and he decided to bring the matter to
a head by burning the hand on the night of Halloween. This is the night when witches and sprits
are abroad, and the night, too, when according to some ancient tradition, the souls of the lost are
released from their eternal bondage to return to the earth. Hamon knew the story of the daughter
of Nefertiti and that according to her deeply-held religion she was one of the lost.
Hamon cast the hand on the fire and read over it prayers from the Egyptian Book of the
Dead. Upon that very moment, he says, the doors burst open with a sudden uprising of wind and
in the doorway stood the figure of the princess from Ancient Egypt.
Nefertiti's daughter made a splendid appearance in her ancient royal apparel, with the
serpent of the House of the Pharaohs glittering on her head-dress. As she went over to the fire
Hamon noticed that her right arm ended at the wrist, just as she had been mutilated those many
centuries ago. The phantom bent over the fire, and then in a moment was gone. Instantly
Hamon went to the fire and found that the mummified hand had also gone.
This was on the last day of October, 1922, and a few days later Hamon read that Lord
Carnarvon's expedition had discovered the tomb of King Tutenkhamen in the Valley of the