Unless you consider lethal, avalanche-bringing, helicopter-crashing, Nazi-invading curses to be “worth it.”
The awesome Tomb Raider reboot is free to download on PS3 as of yesterday, which got us thinking: of the many real life tombs out there, which ones were not worth the time and effort put into raiding them? We’re going with these.
Valley of the Kings
Photo: AFP/ Getty Images
Who’s Buried There: King Tut, who they kept in the tomb, but, rather than leave him in his fancy sarcophagus, put him in a glass tube and sold tickets so you can see his shriveled body. For an extra five bucks you can even take a picture with him.
What Was Raided: Tut was buried with lots and lots of gold, chariots, statues, and a pretty badass mask. Apparently the phrase “You can’t take it with you” didn’t apply to pharaohs.
Curse: After the expedition, several people in the crew died in crazy ways. A few expired as a result of mysterious illnesses, the financial backer died from a mosquito bite, one guy was shot by his wife, another went blind and died soon after, one guy was even assassinated, and decades later, when Steve Martin wrote a song about him, the curse of King Tut returned and ended his movie career.
Messed-Up Fact: Head of the expedition, Howard Carter, found a mummy wearing a bracelet that read, “Cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water, and pestilence.” Rather than just leave the damn thing alone, Carter snapped off the hand and gave it to his friend to use as a paperweight. Soon after, the friend’s house burned down, and then, after it was rebuilt, it flooded. When Carter later asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he said a gift card would be fine.
Photo: Flickr Vision/ Getty Images
Who’s Buried There: The first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, who ordered 720,000 unpaid workers to build his tomb and, once they were finished, slaughtered them. Interesting fact: This is only slightly worse than how China works today.
What Was Raided: Qin Shi Huang was buried with about 8,000 life-size soldiers made of pottery so that he would rule in the afterlife. That’s right - despite the fact that the mountain was made of, you know, impenetrable rock, as most mountains tend to be, the emperor still chose to try scaring away enemies with what amounted to 8,000 flower pots with faces. We’re guessing he probably got his ass kicked in the afterlife by the first guy who was buried with a gun.
Curse: The Terracotta Army has brought tons of tourists and money to China, but it ruined the lives of the seven farmers who uncovered the tomb in 1974. After being forced to leave their land (which was confiscated by the government), all but two of them are dead, having died completely poor (one even ended up hanging himself). The worst part is that there are even imposter discoverers who are making money on this - one of them shook hands with Bill Clinton, who, as an honest and blameless man, must have been totally horrified when he found out.
Messed-Up Fact: When the Emperor died, the higher-ups were terrified that China would fall apart, so they kept his body around for months afterwards and pretended that he was alive, changing his clothes, bringing him water, and surrounding his body with rotten fish at all times to hide the smell. It was basically Weekend At Bernie’s, but with all the wacky humor replaced by constant fear of revolution and death.
Tu-Endie-Wei State Park
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Who’s Buried There: Chief Cornstalk, respected leader of the Shawnee nation. Although not, apparently, respected by the colonists of 1777, who kidnapped and murdered him, along with his youngest son.
What Was Raided: Chief Cornstalk himself, mostly. At first, the colonists buried the Chief in a nice plot and dumped the bodies of the other people they’d killed in the river. Then, about 60 years later, they dug him up and put his bones in the courthouse. Another 100 some-odd years later, they gathered up whatever they had left of his bones (which by this time amounted to just three teeth and some fragments), and buried it in a park. They were nice enough to build a statue of him as a memorial, but it really didn’t make up for the whole “murdering him and his son” thing.
Curse: In his dying words, Cornstalk cursed the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Everyone knew about the curse, but they still thought it was a good idea to screw around with his bones a bunch of times. Since the first of his many exhumations, a whole bunch of crazy stuff has gone down in Point Pleasant: 310 miners died in a mine collapse; 150 people were killed by a tornado; 46 people died in a bridge collapse; 51 construction workers died in a building collapse; and two plane crashes resulted in the deaths of 110 people. Chief Cornstalk did not fuck around with his curses, yo.
Messed-Up Fact: As if they hadn’t taunted the ghost of Cornstalk enough, the town also built a gigantic monument to the battle where Cornstalk was defeated. West Virginians later laughed it off when the monument was struck by lightning… twice.
Photo: AFP/ Getty Images
Who’s Buried There: Otzi, also known as “The Iceman,” “Frozen Fritz,” “The Hauslabjoch Mummy,” and a few other insulting nicknames given to a poor guy who just had the misfortune of freezing to death in the Austrian mountains.
What Was Raided: Just a few belongings and his twisted, disfigured body, which they quickly dissected, discovering, among other things, that he was a smoker (his image is now used by the “Truth” campaign).
Curse: The guy who actually found Otzi was found dead in a stream after a 300-foot fall. It doesn’t stop there, though - one of the researchers who studied him died in a car crash on the way to a conference presenting his work, a documentary filmmaker died of a brain tumor, a couple more people associated with the project died of illnesses, and one guy even died in an avalanche. The lesson here is to give your recently exhumed bodies nicer nicknames.
Messed-Up Fact: Scientists are currently trying to find living relatives of Otzi. We’re not experts here, but we saw some gas station jerky that definitely looked like at least a first cousin.
National Pantheon of Venezuela
Who’s Buried There: Simon Bolivar (who liberated Latin America from Spain), and a bunch of other prominent people. It’s pretty much an exclusive country club for dead Hispanic guys.
What Was Raided: In a desperate attempt to prove his hero could not have died of natural causes, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez ordered that Bolivar’s remains be exhumed to prove that he was killed by Colombians. Scientists ripped apart Bolivar’s skeleton, removed bone fragments, pulled out teeth, and performed a wide variety of tests. The results? Bolivar died of natural causes, and Chavez went on TV and still blamed the Colombians.
Curse: A number of disasters like helicopter and airplane crashes were attributed to this exhumation, but the most notable thing blamed on the curse was Hugo Chavez’s cancer. Wait, did we say cancer? We meant Colombians.
Messed-Up Fact: During the procedure, Chavez had a conversation with Bolivar’s bones and tweeted to Jesus, pleading him to raise the dead again.
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Who’s Buried There: Tamerlane, a conqueror who took over most of Asia and killed an estimated 17 million people. Exactly the kind of guy whose ghost you don’t want to piss off, in other words.
What Was Raided: At the order of Joseph Stalin, a team exhumed Tamerlane’s body, and all of his relatives that were buried with him. Stalin couldn’t have an incomplete collection, you know?
Curse: There was a very serious inscription placed on Tamerlane’s tomb, which read: “When I Rise from the Dead, the World Shall Tremble.” The team of excavators probably laughed heartily at the inscription as they proceeded to dig him up. Two days later, the biggest military invasion of all time took place when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.
Messed-Up Fact: Stalin, who hated Muslims so much that he forcibly deported about 200,000 of them, got so spooked by this turn of events that he made his people put Tamerlane back a year later in accordance with Muslim rituals. Shortly after, the Soviets triumphed at Stalingrad and kicked Hitler out for good. Stalin (possibly) later admitted “My bad.”