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26 arguments for and against opening Egypt’s new mystery sarcophagus

26 arguments for and against opening Egypt’s new mystery sarcophagus


What’s the worst that could possibly happen?

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Today in news that sounds like the premise of a new action movie, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture announced that an archeological dig unearthed an ancient tomb in Alexandria. The black granite sarcophagus contained in the tomb dates back to the Ptolemaic period (sometime between 323 and 30 BC), and it’s the largest discovery of its kind in the area. We don’t know who or what is in it, and nobody has opened it before, which means humanity is facing a conundrum: do we open this thing or what?

I, for one, think it’s a terrible idea. Who knows what’s in there? Why gamble our fates with a thing that screams “I am cursed”? We know what happened with Pandora. But a part of me, the always-online part that’s already being slowly murdered by the onslaught of bad news happening out in the world, says, “You know what? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have this thing deliver us from our mortal coil.”

When I asked other Verge staffers if they’d open the mysterious sarcophagus, everyone had their own strong opinions. I present them to you, dear reader, so you can create an informed opinion about the risks before all hell potentially breaks lose.

Laura Hudson, culture editor — Pro: knowledge. Con: Isn’t there a real element to the curse of the pharaohs in terms of bacteria?

T.C. Sottek, managing editor — Pro:

Bijan Stephen, internet culture reporter — Pro: ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. Con: ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Devon Maloney, internet culture editor — Pro: The Rock may show up.

Chaim Gartenberg, reporter — Con: Tom Cruise might show up.

Bijan — Pro: Brendan Fraser might show up.

Tasha Robinson, film and TV editor — Con: Geraldo Rivera might show up, guaranteeing that there’s nothing inside at all.

Michael Moore, reviews coordinator — Pro: potentially really old honey that’s still good.

Chaim — Pro: treasure?

Devon — Con: rich people will eventually own the treasure.

Bijan — Con: cursed sarcophagus shows up in Kanye’s next Trump freestyle.

Bryan Bishop, senior editor — Pro: Indiana Jones may be inside.

Tasha — Pro: Might stir up more interest in science and exploration, like the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb did. Con: This is straight out of the 2017 version of The Mummy, so it might stir up more interest in restarting the failed Dark Universe franchise.

Laura — I feel like it’s not in human nature to just say, “Oh, here’s this mysterious box of potential knowledge. Let’s just not open it.” The sarcophagus exists, and thus it must be opened.

Devon — “Nuke it from space” is the other option.

Laura — I was thinking about Prometheus, too. There’s definitely that undertone in a lot of the Alien movies about messing with things and paying the price, albeit more often because of capitalism than curiosity.

Devon — Literally show me a movie where opening the ominous, very old thing was a good idea.

Tasha — Raiders of the Lost Ark, Devon. At least, it was a good idea for everyone who wanted the Nazis dead. Can we surround the sarcophagus with America’s growing cadre of unabashed white supremacists before we open it?

Devon — I mean, how hard could it be to convince Richard Spencer that he alone deserves to open the cursed tomb?

Andrew Webster, games editor — Pro: It’s the ultimate loot box. Con: odds of death are not disclosed.