Mummification in ancient Egypt was performed using clearly defined routines and religious rituals. However, an unidentified mummy found in 1881 had not been prepared in accordance with custom. What is more, when his body was unwrapped in 1886, archeologists found themselves confronted with the horrific, gaping maw of a face contorted in a scream. In what appears to be an active attempt to damn the man, the mummy was in a sarcophagus that did not bear any name or identifying marks. Unable to proceed further, “Unknown Man E,” as he was called, was stored in the Cairo Museum. Over 100 years later, a team of Egyptologists, accompanied by National Geographic, reopened the case of Unknown Man E, who came to be known as the ‘Screaming Mummy’.
In 1881, an extraordinary find was uncovered in an inconspicuous cavern, known as DB320, 300 miles (483km) south of Cairo in Deir El Bahri. At the end of a 45 feet (14m) vertical shaft and seemingly endless corridors, 40 mummies were discovered, including Unknown Man E. At the time, the Screaming Mummy was hardly noticed for he was among some of the most legendary rulers of Egypt: Pharaoh Ramses II, Pharaoh Seti I, and Thutmose III, the Conquering Pharaoh. “These were the really big names in ancient Egyptian history,” said Dylan Bickerstaffe, an Egyptologist consulted by National Geographic.
The location of DB320 at Deir el Bahari, where over 40 mummies were found (public domain)
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