The Screaming Mummies

Discovered in 1886, a mummy with an agonized expression on his face has long since been the object of speculation. This mummy has all his organs intact, which is not customary with mummification. Many interesting theories have arisen, though none have been proven right or wrong.

Bob Brier, a University of Long Island archaeologist, speculated that two parties were responsible for the mummy’s agonized expression. One was the murderer, while the other ensured full preservation of the body (possibly due to a personal relationship with the victim). Other researchers and archaeologists have come up with theories ranging from cold-blooded murder to poisoning to being buried alive.

A 2008 National Geographic documentary special investigated the possibility that the mummy could be Prince Pentewere (son of Pharaoh Ramses III), who was suspected of planning his father’s murder. Ancient documents from the 12th century claimed one of Pharaoh Ramses III’s wives was tried for conspiring to kill him, due to her desire for Pentewere to take over the throne.

It is thought that when this plan was discovered, she poisoned Pentewere as punishment and rolled him up in sheepskin after being mummified. If that was the case, the “scream” could have been due to the pain from the poison ingested. However, only a CT scan had been done of the screaming mummy, and it remains pure speculation whether the mummy was in fact Prince Pentewere.

Less sensational theories suggest that the mummy’s jaw is open simply because his head most likely rolled back after death occurred. But even that bit of realism is as good a guess as anybody else’s.

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