Unusual-ology: Ten Year Old Boy Finds ‘Egyptian Mummy’ In Grandmothers Attic.

Alexander Kettler, a ten year old boy from Diepholz in northern Germany, had a startling discovery in his grandmother’s attic when he stumbled upon what appears to be an Egyptian mummy in a mysterious wooden chest. The wooden box, which is covered in ancient hieroglyphs, was apparently bought in Africa around during the 1950’s by his late grandfather. But this Egyptian mummy isn’t all he found in the wooden chest. The chest also contained a death mask and a canopic jar, where the organs removed during the mummification process are stored.

Image

Image of the suspected Egyptian mummy in the hieroglyph covered sarcophagus.

The boy’s father now plans to take the mysterious box to Berlin to get it examined by experts to see whether this is a genuine mummy or a fake. He believes that the sarcophagus and jar are fake but the mummy might prove to be the real deal as it’s not “something you could buy at a shop around the corner”.

If the mummy is sent off for verification it will be subjected to MRI and CT scans, which may come back negative as mummies tend to be so dehydrated that there is a lack of hydrogen atoms – which the scans rely on. The use of carbon dating will be fundamental in identifying whether this is a true Egyptian mummy or a fake.

There are lots of problems occurring in the archaeological world, from fake mummies or mummies being wrongly labelled as something there not. One such example is my Unusual-ology post focusing on the topic of a lecture I had during my undergraduate degree. The lecture explored the past of a decapitated head which had preserved soft tissue, that was on display in a Wiccan and witchcraft museum under the guise of an execution victim, which was later stored in a decorated wooden box in a Church.

References:

BBC. 2013. German boy finds ‘a mummy’ in grandmother’s attic. BBC News. Available here. 

Daily Mail. Mummy there’s a mummy in grandma’s attic! Boy discovers ‘Egyptian body’ inside an old wooden chest. Available here. 

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If you want to read more unusual science posts click here, or to read the Unusual-ology post on the Ancient Egyptian use of lettuce as an aphrodisiac, click here. Or to read about the newly discovered ‘Entrance to Hell’ click here!

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500yr Old Inca Child Mummies Found Drugged.

Archaeologists have found three Inca child mummies dating back to 500yrs on the top of the 22,000ft summit of the Mount Llullaillco volcano in Argentina. One of the mummies found is that of a thirteen year old girl, now dubbed as the ‘Llullaillaco Maiden’, the other two mummies are that of a boy and a girl aged around four years old. The mummy of Llullaillaco Maiden is remarkably preserved whereas the remains of the boy and the girl were struck by lightning and so are charred.

The thirteen year old Llullaillco Maiden mummy which was discovered on top of a 22,000ft mountain in Argentina. Photo © Johan Reinhard.

The thirteen year old Llullaillco Maiden mummy which was discovered on top of a 22,000ft mountain in Argentina. Photo © Johan Reinhard.

The mummies were found separately entombed within a shrine, and were originally discovered in 1993 by Dr Andrew Wilson and his team of archaeologists from Bradford University. But it’s the recent findings that have spurred them into the news. The team of archaeologists analysed strands of the three mummies’ hair and discovered that in their later years they were drugged with beer and cocaine. As the Llullaillco Maiden’s hair was so long, with a centimetre of hair growth estimated per month, it allowed for an analysis that compared the alcohol and cocaine consumption during her last 21 months of life. An axial radiograph also showed that a coca leaf was held between the Llullaillco Maiden’s teeth. It is thought that she was fed the coca to subdue her during the Inca rituals.

Axial radiograph of the thirteen year old mummie, shown highlighted in green is the coca leaf.

Axial radiograph of the thirteen year old mummie, shown highlighted in green is the coca leaf.

It is thought that according to Inca beliefs, the children served as guardians over their villages from the heights of the mountains. Capacocha was a ritual in which local lords were required to select unblemished children (representing the ideal human perfection), who were then married and returned to their original communities where they were honoured before being sacrificed to the mountain gods. The ritual of capacocha took place upon the death of an Inca king.

The mummies now reside in the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (MAAM) in Salta, Argentina.

References:

Daily Mail. 2013. Drugged with beer and cocaine and left to freeze to death, 500-year-old mummies of sacrificed Inca children reveal their secrets. Mail Online. Available here. 

National Geographic. 2013. Inca Child Sacrifice Victims Were Drugged. National Geographic Daily News. Available here. 

Wilson, A., Taylor, T., Ceruti, M. C., Chavez, J.A., Reinhard, J., Grimes, V., Meier-Augenstien, W., Cartmell, L., Stern, B., Richards, M.P., Worobey, M., Barnes, I., Gilbert, M.T. 2007. Stable isotope and DNA evidence for Ritual Sequences in Inca Child Sacrifice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sicences of the United States of America. 104, 42. Pg 16456-16461. Available here.