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Mystery : An intermediate level English resource.

The Titanic and the Temple of Doom

Apart from wars and natural catastrophes, one of the greatest disasters of the 20th century was the sinking of the great liner Titanic, in 1912. The "unsinkable" ship sank on a voyage from Liverpool to New York after striking an iceberg off the coast of Labrador. "How did it happen? How could it happen ?" people asked . Yet it happened ! Inexplicable, or was it? Is it possible that the sinking of the Titanic was caused by a ghost? A lot of this story is true... but did it really happen quite like this ? 
Was the priestess of Amon-Ra looking on ?As the Titanic sank, was the priestess of Amon-Ra looking on?
  We need to leave the icy cold waters of the North Atlantic, and go thousands of miles back to the dry heat of the Nile Valley in Egypt.  It is here, perhaps, that we can find the start of the mystery of the Titanic, here in the year 1910, in the great city of Cairo.
   One day, a British Egyptologist, called Douglas Murray, was staying in Cairo, when he was contacted by a man he did not know, a strange American adventurer.
   The American had something unusual to offer the British archaeologist, something that was certain to thrill him : a beautiful ancient Egyptian mummy-case,  containing the mummy of the high-priestess from the temple of the god Amon-Ra. The object was over 3000 years old, but in beautiful condition – gold, with bright paintings on it, and a "portrait" of the priestess. The American did not want a lot of money for it, and Murray was delighted. He gave the man a cheque.
    The cheque was never cashed. That evening the American who had sold the case died.  For his part, Murray arranged to have the treasure sent back to Britain. However, it was not long before he learnt more about the beautiful mummy : apparently it had been discovered in a funeral chamber in a dry part of the Nile Valley. On the walls of the chamber, there were inscriptions which warned of terrible consequences to anyone who broke into the tomb. Murray was pretty sceptical about this warning until a few days later, when a gun he was holding exploded in his hand, shattering his arm. The arm had to be amputated.
   Murray decided to come back to England. On the return journey, two of his companions died from mysterious causes, two servants who had handled the mummy died soon afterwards. By this time, Murray had decided that there really was a spell on the mummy, and he decided to get rid of it. A lady he knew said she would like it, so he gave it to her. Shortly afterwards, the lady's mother died, and her fiancé left her : she herself caught a strange disease. She tried to give the mummy case back to Douglas Murray, but naturally Murray did not want to have anything more to do with the cursed object.  In the end, it was presented to the British Museum.
   It was presumed that that would be the end of the story, but it was not.
Even in the museum, the mummy continued to cause strange events. A museum photographer died shortly after taking pictures of the new exhibit; and a curator also died for no apparent reason. In the end, the governors of the British Museum, not usually considered to be frivolous people, decided to get rid of the mummy.  They decided to give it to a museum in New York.
   At the start of April 1912, arrangements for the transfer were complete, and the mummy began its journey to its new home. Unfortunately .... or was it fortunately? ... the New York museum never received its new exhibit. For when it sank, one of the objects in the strong-room of the Titanic was the mummy case of the priestess of the temple of Amon-Ra.  Or so they say.



Word guide

WORD GUIDE

to sink, sank  to go to the bottom of the sea - liner : big passenger ship - maiden : first - strike: hit  - thrill: excite - priest: man of god - portrait: picture - delighted - very happy - funeral : ceremony when a person has died -  warn : predict - break into: enter -  shatter:  break - spell:  curse, magic  -frivolous : silly-  get rid of: sell or give - curator: employee, worker -


See also: Song: The Titanic (words and MP3)

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Student worksheet

Linguapress.com Intermediate English

The Titanic and the Temple of Doom

Replace the missing verbs and auxiliaries in this extract from the article. To help you, the first letter of each verb has been provided; but not the first letter of the auxiliaries..

That evening the American who ______ s________ the case d_______.  For his part, Murray arranged to have the treasure s_______ back to Britain. However, it was not long before he l_______ more about the beautiful mummy : apparently it _____  _______ discovered in a funeral chamber in a dry part of the Nile Valley. On the walls of the chamber, there _______ inscriptions which warned of terrible consequences to anyone who b_______ into the tomb. Murray was pretty sceptical about this warning until a few days later, when a gun he _____ h______ exploded in his hand, s_______ his arm. The arm ______  ____  ____ amputated.

   

FOR TEACHERS

Other ideas

Introduction: Before taking this article, ask your pupils to tell you about the Titanic. Some of them are sure to be able to provide some details.

Grammar: auxiliaries.  See  Linguapress English grammar


Memory testing / oral expression. After pupils have become familiar with this article, have them hide or cover the written text, while you read it to them. Read through this article, stopping at each l in the text below, and asking pupils to recall the missing words in italics.
  We need to leave the icy cold waters of l the North Atlantic, and go thousands of miles back to the ldry heat of the Nile Valley in Egypt.  It is here, perhaps, that we can find the l start of the mystery of the Titanic, here in the year l 1910, in the great city of ll Cairo.
   One day, a British Egyptologist, called Douglas Murray, was l staying in Cairo, when he was contacted by a man l he did not know, a strange American l adventurer.
   The American had something unusual to l offer the British archaeologist, something that was certain to l thrill him : a beautiful ancient Egyptian mummy-case,  containing the mummy of l the high-priestess from the temple of the god Amon-Ra. The object was l over 3000 years old, but in beautiful condition – gold, with l bright paintings on it, and a "portrait" of the priestess. The American did not want l a lot of money for it, and Murray was delighted. He gave the man l a cheque.

Creative writing

Using information from the article, and their imagination, students should write an imaginary letter from  Douglas Murray either to his brother in Scotland,  to the lady he gave the mummy case to, or to the American museum, after the sinking of the Titanic.

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Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Originally published in Freeway magazine. Updated 2014.


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