The Curse of the Unlucky Mummy


Written By Zawara Zain


The name ‘Unlucky Mummy’ is misleading, as the artifact is not a mummy at all, but rather a gessoes and painted wooden ‘mummy-board’ or inner coffin lid. It was found at Thebes and can be dated by its shape and the style of its decoration to the late 21st or early 22nd Dynasty (c 950–900 BC). The mummy-board is 162 centimeters (64 in) in length and made out of wood and plaster. The detail is painted upon the plaster, and hands protrude from the wooden mummy-board. For its age, the mummy-board is of good quality.

Theory & Facts

Sometime in the 1860s, five recent Oxford graduates took a trip to Egypt. Together they sailed down the Nile, a tourist attraction even then. To remember their trip, they bought a souvenir in the mummy pits of Deir el-Bahri—the coffin lid of a priestess of Amen-Ra. The high priests of Amen-Ra, named after an Egyptian deity.

On their way back from Egypt, two of the men died. A third went to Cairo and accidentally shot himself in the arm while quail hunting and had to have it amputated. Another member of the group, Arthur Wheeler, managed to make it back to England, only to lose his entire fortune gambling. He moved to America and lost his new fortune to both a flood and a fire. The coffin lid was then place under the care of Wheeler” s sister, who attempted to have it photographed in 1887, the photographer died, as did the porter. The man asked to translate the hieroglyphs on the lid-committed suicide. The coffin lid seemed almost certainly cursed. However, this was only the beginning.

One way or another Amen-Ra reached Britain.
The mummy was bought by a London businessman who donated it to the British Museum after his house nearly burned down and three of his family were injured in a road accident. One of the workers that helped unload the mummy at the museum broke his leg, a second one died mysteriously and the truck carrying Amen-Ra reversed hitting and trapping a pedestrian.

Moreover, when Amen-Ra was put on exhibit night watchmen started reporting haunting type phenomena, including poltergeist like activity and the sounds of crying and hammering from within the sarcophagus. The mysterious deaths also continued with one of the Night Watchmen dying and the child of a visitor who flicked a cloth at the coffin.

The mysterious deaths also continued with one of the Night Watchmen dying and the child of a visitor who flicked a cloth at the coffin.

Since its arrival at the museum in 1889, the Unlucky Mummy has been blame for everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the escalation of World War I.
How this piece of wood become so intimately and persistently connected with death and destruction is a story of the endlessly swirling tales.

By the time the Unlucky Mummy arrived at the British Museum, its reputation had seeped through British private society. While the museum curators generally scoffed at the alleged curse, men at soirees, dinner parties, and “ghost clubs,” traded stories of its powers. However, it was not until 1904 that the broader public got a whiff of the curse. That was the year that a young, dashing, and ambitious journalist named Bertram Fletcher Robinson published a front-page article in the Daily Express, called “A Priestess of Death,” about the allegedly haunted mummy. “It is certain that the Egyptians had powers which we in the 20th century may laugh at, yet can never understand,” he wrote. Three years later, Robinson died suddenly of a fever, and his friends immediately thought of the mummy’s curse. “The very last time I saw him he told me a wonderful tale about a mummy, which had caused the death of everybody who had to do with it,” wrote Archibald Marshall, an English author and journalist.

As tales goes many blame “The unlucky Mummy “whose curse was as responsible for that accident as that floating island of ice the tore open the ship’s hull. Though the story had been around for years, it spread rapidly in the wake of the popularity of the film Titanic. The tale goes something like this In April 1912; the new owner escorted his treasure aboard a sparkling, new White Star liner about to make its maiden voyage to New York.

On the night of April 14, amid scenes of unprecedented horror, the Princess of Amen-Ra accompanied 1,500 passengers to their deaths at the bottom of the Atlantic. The name of the ship was “Titanic.” (Just a theory).

This mummy is now displayed in Room 62 British museum London.


Written By Zawara Zain

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