Mystery Of Egypt's 'Screaming Mummy' Has Finally Been Solved

Mummies are a crazy concept - not just because bodies can be preserved so well for thousands of years, or the idea they might rise from the dead to kill us all, but that the Ancient Egyptians actually worked out how to do it. It's not like they could follow instructions on YouTube or anything.

Credit: Ministry Of Antiquities
Credit: Ministry Of Antiquities

Anyway, Egypt's 'Screaming Mummy' is one of the best-known in the world. It was first discovered by archaeologists at Deir El-Bahari in 1886, and there were some noticeable differences between this particular preserved body and most other ones.

For a start, the mummy's limbs were bound in leather and the body wrapped in sheepskin, suggesting that the body was considered 'unclean'. Perhaps most intriguingly is that his mouth had been left open.

Now, more than 130 years after the mummy was discovered, experts believe the remains might belong to the disgraced son of King Ramesses III - second pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's 20th dynasty - who was sentenced to death by hanging after plotting to kill his father.

Credit: G. Elliott Smith (Wikimedia Commons)
Credit: G. Elliott Smith (Wikimedia Commons)

According to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the Screaming Mummy was simply left to dry out in natron salt - which was even poured into his open mouth - and covered with sheepskin, instead of being carefully wrapped in white linen and properly mummified.

For years, it was thought that the mummy - also known as 'Unknown Man E' and now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for the first time - had been poisoned, but recent analysis of the corpse shows this may not have been the case.

Rather, markings around the mummy's neck show the person was likely hanged - which aligns with ancient texts about the Harem Conspiracy, a plot by Prince Pentawere and Queen Tiye, the pharaoh's son and second wife - to murder Ramesses III.

Ahram Online said that DNA extracted from the bones of both the unidentified mummy and Ramesses III, indicate that the Screaming Mummy is, in fact, pharaoh's son.

CT scans of Ramesses III's mummy show he died a violent death - not only was his throat slit, but his big toe was also cut off. 3,000 years on, it really is remarkable that all of this has been pieced together. It's even better than an episode of Law And Order: SVU.

Featured Image Credit: Ministry Of Antiquities

Mischa Pearlman

Mischa is a freelance journalist usually based in either New York or London. He has written for Kerrang!, Record Collector, NME, the New York Observer and FLOOD magazine, among others. Contact him at [email protected]

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