Saturday, September 28, 2013


THE mystery of an Egyptian mummy discovered in a homeowner's attic in Germany has been totally unraveled by forensic scientists who now say it is an elaborate 20th Century hoax for gullible European tourists.

Tests showed that someone had gone to great lengths to put a carnival spook house plastic skeleton in mummy wrappings.

The only genuine thing about the mummy is its human skull. However, the experts said it is the sort of hinged skull that medical students use.

A "diadem" which ringed the brow in an initial X-ray photo turns out to be ordinary tape which was used to tape the hinged top of the skull to the rest of it.

An arrowhead which X-rays had detected in one eye socket turns out to be a children's toy arrowhead.

It is believed the mummy was foisted off on a West German tourist in the 1950s as a genuine ancient mummy.

The GERMAN ATTIC MUMMY made headlines around the world in August when a 10-year-old boy was playing in his late grandparents' attic in the hamlet of Diepholz and pulled away a wall panel which revealed a hidden chamber containing an ornate Egyptian coffin and boxes containing a Canopic jar and a replica Egyptian head.

Experts quickly determined that the coffin was not of dynastic origin, but rather a 20th Century mock-up. For one thing, the coffin decorations were imitations of wall murals from the Tomb of Tutankhamun, which was not discovered until 1922. 

And the mummy bandages are factory woven 20th Century gauze, experts say.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened it and saw a genuine mummy, exactly 1.60 meters long (5 ft, 3 in), and the interior of the case artistically worked out in hieroglyphs," says Lutz Wolfgang Kettler, a 53-year-old dentist.

His 10-year-old son Alexander was poking around the dusty attic when he noticed some loose boards on a wall panel.

Like a young Indiana Jones, he sensed there might be something behind them ... and sure enough there was.

How did these strange crates end up in the northern German hamlet of Diepholz?

Kettler says it all may have started over half a century ago in Egypt: "My father, who died 10 years ago, traveled to Egypt in the 1950s. Unfortunately, he never told us much about it ... except that he had to go to the port of Bremerhaven to get something through customs. I'm afraid there aren't any documents on what it was."

The secret died with his father.

"First the experts said it might be a genuine ancient Egyptian mummy," Kettler says. "Then they thought it might be a murder victim. And now they say it is a plastic side-show carnival skeleton. I don't know what to think any more."

The Egyptians have a long history of selling mummies to foreigners. Every European aristocrat wanted a mummy in their stately home. And "mummy dust" from ground-up mummies was believed to be a curative for a vast array of ailments aimed at prolonging life.

In some cases, genuine ancient mummies have been sold to travelers, and many of the mummies now in museums around the world were bought from mummy vendors in Egypt, as depicted in this vintage photo.

But very often, fake mummies have been foisted onto gullible tourists over the centuries.

Oftentimes the elaborate wrappings conceal animal bones arranged to resemble the form of a human skeleton.

Other times ... and despite Islamic abhorrance of desecrating the dead ... human corpses were hastily eviscerated and haphazardly mummified and sold to foreigners. 

Through the centuries, it has been a neat way of disposing of unwanted corpses ... eliminating the corpus delicti without anyone being the wiser. This ploy has been a frequent plot device in countless novels and movies.

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