in 1886, the head of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, Gaston Maspero who was unwrapping the mummies of the 40 kings and queens, taking mummies out of their sarcophagi, unwrapping them, dictating all kinds of notes, when noticed an unusually plain burial box.
Unlike the kings and queens he’d been working, this particular box didn’t give any information as to the identity of the stiff inside. Even stranger, the body was wrapped in sheepskin, which was considered unclean by ancient Egyptians. When he finally opened the coffin, Maspero found himself even more shocked. he found this screaming, undead face looking back at him.
wrapped in a sheep or goatskin – a ritually unclean object for ancient Egyptians – lay the body of a young man, his face locked in an eternal blood-curdling scream. It was a spine-tingling sight, and one that posed even more troubling questions: here was a mummy, carefully preserved, yet caught in the moment of death in apparently excruciating pain.
Called both “Unknown Man E” and the “Screaming Mummy” because of his open jaw and agonized expression, the mummy has baffled researchers since it was first uncovered. Experts theorized that the body had been poisoned, buried alive or otherwise tortured before his untimely death.
He had been buried in exalted company, yet been left without an inscription, ensuring he would be consigned to eternal damnation, as the ancient Egyptians believed identity was the key to entering the afterlife. Moreover, his hands and feet had been so tightly bound that marks still remained on the bones.
since Unknown Man E, there have been several more “screaming” mummies found in various digs all around the world. Mummies with their mouths agape or lips pulled back as if they are screaming or writhing in pain are truly startling. Two of the most famous–designated Unknown Woman A and Unknown Man E. Such mummies, however, are found not just in Egypt but worldwide, in Palermo, Sicily, Guanajuato, Mexico, and in Peru. Some of these bodies were purposefully preserved, though by various methods, while others are natural or, you might say, accidental mummies.
Are screaming mummies really testaments to horrific deaths? Or are they the result of natural processes, botched or ad hoc mummification jobs, or the depredations of tomb robbers?
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