Sunday, August 4, 2013


FORGET skeletons in the closet ... a 10-year-old boy in Germany stumbled upon an Egyptian mummy in the attic of his late grandfather's house.

 Little Alexander Kettler 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, he discovered a hidden chamber containing three mysterious wooden crates.

His disbelieving father cautioned against expecting hidden treasure or anythng else the least bit unusual ... until he opened the biggest crate ... and found a life-size mummy in a coffin lined with linen decorated with elaborate hieroglyphs.

"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.

What was in the other two smaller crates?

"A death mask made of earthenware pottery which fits the face of the mummy perfectly ... and then a Canopic jar sort of a vase which was used for preserving the internal organs of the body," he says.

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

"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.

"Nobody in the family ever suspected there was a mummy in the attic."

Now Dr. Kettler plans to take it to a friend of his in Berlin who is a forensic specialist.

"I'm going to load it in the back of my Mercedes station wagon and take it to this guy I know in Berlin who is going to X-ray it," he says.

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.

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.

So it will be interesting to see what those mummy wrappings reveal ....

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