Curses, Traps and other Nasty Ways to Die

by MSO

Keep out - or else was the message behind the tomb traps employed in ancient tombs like these in Egypt.

In ancient Egypt, Tomb Traps were employed much like our burglar alarms of today especially in the tombs of pharaohs and other well known and powerful people. Entrances to tombs were sealed after entombment which alone gave a pretty strong indication that visiting was not allowed.

Unlike today’s technological alarms that warn people that someone might be breaking in, tomb traps didn’t actually alert anyone to the fact someone had invaded the tomb. Instead, their purpose was to kill the intruder and these tomb traps didn’t differentiate between robbers and archaeologists.

The Egyptians devised several ways of killing people who entered a tomb and some were intended to be very nasty. Some of the tomb traps that have been found include:


Curses were written or spoken by priests, most designed to bring bad luck upon anyone who entered the tomb. They were often inscribed above the entrance as a warning. Some traditional curses include:

“As for anybody who shall enter this tomb in his impurity: I shall wring his neck as a bird’s.”

“As for any man who shall destroy these, it is the god Thoth who shall destroy him.”

“As for him who shall destroy this inscription, He shall not reach his home. He shall not embrace his children. He shall not see success.”

Falling Rocks

A convenient way of getting rid of a tomb raider was simply to drop a heavy rock on the person as he entered. Heavy rocks were often placed above doorways, connected to wires or ropes that could bring it tumbling down on someone’s head as they passed through the doorway.

Hidden Holes

Holes were often dug leading to steep pits below the tomb and some came complete with a spike at the bottom. Camouflaged covers would be set over the hole and balanced perfectly so even a person with the lightest step would have fallen to his doom and in some cases, been impaled.


The Ancient Egyptians were relatively proficient in medicine and the study of alchemy and their poisons were well advanced. Alchemists concocted powders that were strategically placed in tombs and rigged so that if a person entered the tomb, the poisonous powders would be released and inhaled by the interlopers.

False Well Cover

Wells were included in many Egyptian tombs, not only to quench the thirst of the person who was buried in the afterlife but to draw thirsty raiders in as well. False covers were often used to cover the well and, worked on much the same principal as the “Hidden Holes.”

Head Wires

Thin wire has been found in many tombs strung between openings at about neck level. Decapitation, or at least bleeding to death was the purpose of these deadly traps.

Read more:

Tomb Curses | King


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