Presented by 
Wm. Max Miller, 
M. A.

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Introduction

Quickly Access Specific Mummies With Our  
Mummy Locator 

Or
View mummies in the
following Galleries:

XVII'th
Dynasty

Gallery I


XVIII'th
Dynasty

Gallery I

Gallery II

Gallery III

 Gallery IV
Featuring the controversial KV 55 mummy. Now with a revised reconstruction of ancient events in this perplexing tomb.

Gallery V
Featuring the mummies of Tutankhamen and his children. Still in preparation.


XIX'th
Dynasty

Gallery I 
Now including the
mummy identified as
Ramesses I


XX'th
Dynasty

Gallery I


XXI'st
Dynasty

Gallery I

Gallery II


  Unidentified  Mummies

Gallery I
Including the mummy which some experts believe may be that of Nefertiti.

Gallery II
Including the KV 60 mummy found by Donald P. Ryan



About the Dockets

Inhapi's Tomb

Acknowledgements

Links

Using this website for research papers

Project Updates
See what's new at the T. R. M. P.

The Hall of Records
Archived Update Reports

Biographical Data about William Max Miller
 


Special Exhibits

Updated!
The Treasures of Yuya and Tuyu

  View the funerary equipment of Queen Tiye's parents!

New!
 Tomb Raiders of KV 46!
How thorough were the robbers who plundered the tomb of Yuya and Tuyu? How many times was the tomb robbed, and what were the thieves after? This study of post interment activity in KV 46 provides some answers.
 

Updated!
Special KV 55 Section!
========

Follow the trail of the missing treasures from mysterious KV 55.

KV 55's Lost Objects: Where Are They Today?

The KV 55 Coffin Basin and Gold Foil Sheets


KV 55 Gold Foil at the Metropolitan

Mystery of the Missing Mummy Bands

KV 35 Revisited
See rare photographic plates of a great discovery from Daressy's Fouilles de la Vallee des Rois.

Unknown Man E  
Was he really
buried alive?

The Tomb of Maihirpre
Learn about Victor Loret's important discovery of this nearly intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Special Section!
Tomb Robbers!
Who were the real tomb raiders? What beliefs motivated their actions? A new perspective on the ancient practice of tomb robbing!

Special Section!
Spend a Night
with the Royal Mummies

Read Pierre Loti's eerie account of his nocturnal visit to the Egyptian Museum's Hall of Mummies.

Special Section!
An Audience With Amenophis II
Journey once more with Pierre Loti as he explores the shadowy  chambers of KV 35 in the early 1900's.


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Most of the images on this website have been scanned from books, all of which are given explicit credit and, wherever possible, a link to a dealer where they may be purchased. Some images derive from other websites. These websites are also acknowledged in writing and by being given a link, either to the page or file where the images appear, or to the main page of the source website. Images forwarded to me by individuals who do not supply the original image source are credited to the sender. All written material deriving from other sources is explicitly credited to its author. 
Feel free to use  material from the Theban Royal Mummy Project website. No prior written permission is required. Just please follow the same guidelines which I employ when using the works of other researchers, and give the Theban Royal Mummy Project  proper credit on your own papers, articles, or web pages. 

--Thank You
 

This website is constantly developing and contributions of data from other researchers are welcomed.
Contact The Theban Royal Mummy Project at:
anubis4_2000@yahoo.com

Background Image:  Wall scene from the tomb of Ramesses II (KV 7.) From Karl Richard Lepsius, Denkmäler (Berlin: 1849-1859.)

 

 

 


Special Exhibit
The Strange Case of Unknown Man E
Opened December 9'th, 2000
New images added February 9, 2009


Unknown Man E (c. 1518?-1504? B.C.)Unknown_Man_E.jpg (47980 bytes)
18'th Dynasty?
Provenance
: DB 320
Discovery Date
: 1860?  (official discovery 1881)
Current Location: Cairo Museum CG61098

Biographical data: Unknown.

Details: Few Egyptian mummies have effected the imaginations of otherwise level-headed researchers as much as the mummy of Unknown Man E. The first accounts of the unwrapping of this mummy bristle with adjectives like repulsive, noxious, and hideous, all of which indicate the strong subjective responses Unknown Man E initially produced.
    Dr. Fouquet and the chemist, M. Mathey, who jointly unwrapped the mummy on June 6, 1886, along with Gaston Maspero who supervised the proceedings, all published reports of their findings. Mathey's report appeared first in the Bulletin de l'Institut Egyptien in 1886, soon after the mummy was unwrapped. This was reprinted, along with the accounts of Maspero and Dr. Fouquet, in Les Momies Royales de Deir el Bahri (1889.) The most recent analysis by Dylan Bickerstaffe, which appeared in K M T (Spring, 1999), presents a concise review of these early accounts and adopts the most rational tone. 
    The mummy of Unknown Man E exhibited some very unusual features. It had been enshrouded in some fashion by a sheepskin which still retained its white wool. The fact that wool remained on the sheepskin is an important detail which will be discussed below. The presence of this sheepskin has generated much speculation, primarily because Herodotus had written that woolen garments were considered ritually unclean by the Egyptians. Bickerstaffe points out that no dynastic burial other than Unknown Man E's has been found in which a sheepskin was used as a shroud, and also notes that one ancient Egyptian source, The Tale of Sinhue, does imply that burial in a sheepskin was undesirable. Beneath this unusual sheepskin was a layer of linen wrappings described by Maspero as a "thick network of bandages" which he dated to the 18'th Dynasty, perhaps basing his opinion on the way they had been bound around the mummy. Under these, the examiners found a layer of natron (NaCl and Na2CO3) which had been applied to a second, final layer of bandages. The natron had absorbed fat from the body and emitted a strong putrid odor. 
    Fouquet records that the bandages covered by natron had been "impregnated with an adhesive substance" and could only be removed with a saw, a method that unfortunately would have destroyed any inscriptions which might have appeared on the bandages. He also noted the superior quality of the linen used for the wrappings, which indicated that Unknown Man E had probably held a high social status. Fouquet discovered that the bandages had been held in place around the upper arms, wrists and lower legs with knotted lengths of linen tied so tightly that they had left a definite imprint on the skin of the upper arms. The frequently repeated misconception that Unknown Man E had been bound with leather thongs probably derives from a misinterpretation of Fouquet's statements about the tight linen wrappings.
    Under the tightly bound second layer of bandages, the examiners discovered another coating of a substance which Fouquet said consisted of natron, crushed resin, and lime (CaO.) This material had been applied directly to the skin and covered the whole body, and Maspero commented that it had been done "with a skill that betrayed long experience of this kind of work." Mathey described this chemical substance as "encasing" the body, and measured its thickness as being between 0.10 and 0.15 centimeters. He also said that the substance was "extremely caustic," which is to be expected if calcium oxide were present in the mixture. Mathey makes the interesting observation that this substance was hygroscopic, and that it rapidly absorbed moisture from the air. This is another characteristic of calcium oxide, which deliquesces and becomes chemically basic when hydrated.The fact that calcium oxide (sometimes called "quicklime") was present in the embalming material, and that it was found in an unslaked (unhydrated) condition when first exposed to the air, have implications which will be discussed below. 

   
The contorted features of Unknown Man E have inspired imaginative speculations for over a century.
Photo Source: National Geographic Society

    After removing the layer of chemicals, the examiners discovered the body of a young man estimated to be around 23-24 years of age. His face was contorted into a grimace and the muscles of his abdomen were severely constricted. By making a small opening in the lower back region of the mummy, Fouquet discovered that the internal organs were still in place contrary to the usual Egyptian practice of removing them. The penis was also still intact, although it was missing when G. E. Smith examined the mummy years later. Maspero stated that Unknown Man E had been circumcised but Fouquet was not certain about this, and believed that the glans could have been exposed (perhaps by the pressure of the bandages?) at the time the mummy was wrapped and was not necessarily evidence of circumcision.
    Unknown Man E's ears had been pierced, and his gold earrings were still in place. Fouquet described them as hollow tubes "tapered at both ends and bent back to form an ellipse" and notes that they are identical to earrings found on the mummy of Pinudjem I. However, since earrings of this style were manufactured during a wide range of historical periods, they offered little information that could be of use in dating Unknown Man E's burial. Bickerstaffe mentions the interesting fact that the embalmers had not stolen these earrings. Two canes with heads made out of braided reeds were also found in Unknown Man E's coffin. The significance of the canes is unknown, but Bickerstaffe relates that at a lecture given by Geoffrey Martin, his attention was called to the fact that Maya, Tutankhamen's treasurer, had been depicted in his tomb holding two canes. The current location of the earrings and canes found with Unknown Man E is not known. They may have been misplaced somewhere in the Cairo Museum, or perhaps stolen and sold on the antiquities market.


By using modern CT technology and the methods of forensic science,
Dr Caroline Wilkinson was able to reconstruct the facial features of
the enigmatic Unknown Man E.
Photo Sources: (L) METRO.co.uk. (R) Mirror.co.uk


 
Unknown Man E awaiting a recent re-examination by Dr. Bob Brier.
Photo Source: National Geographic Society


    The Osiriform coffin in which Unknown Man E had been buried (CG61023--click here for photo of coffin & also see recent color photo below) was painted white and was completely undecorated. It lacked features or inscriptions that would aid in the process of determining its date or the identity of the mummy which it contained. According to Aidan Dodson, who discussed the coffin with Bickerstaffe, its crossed arms became a common feature from the 19'th Dynasty onward, but its simple headdress indicated a mid-18'th Dynasty date. It had been made out of expensive cedar wood, and Bickerstaffe comments on the unusual fact that it had not been appropriated for use in another burial as had so many of the other, poorer coffins found in DB 320. He also points out that neither the coffin or the mummy had been rifled by thieves, perhaps because the undecorated appearance of the coffin convinced them that it did not contain objects of any great worth.  


The uninscribed coffin of Unknown Man E with inset photo of interior.
Photo Source: Pat Remler/www.archeology.org.

 
   
Several theories have been advanced to explain the unusual features of this burial. The examiners first hypothesized that Unknown Man E had been impaled because his perineum was badly torn. This idea was abandoned, however, when Fouquet determined that the large intestine was undamaged and that the anal injury must have been post mortem. The second theory proposed that Unknown Man E had died after ingesting some kind of convulsant poison. Based primarily on the observable constriction of the abdomen, which was initially interpreted as evidence of violent convulsions, this theory seemed weakened by a more thorough consideration of the manner in which the preservative chemicals had reacted with the body tissues over time. Since the internal organs had not been removed, they slowly shrank under the dehydrating effect of the chemicals and consequently constricted the abdominal area. However, as George B. Johnson pointed out to me in a recent communication, the fact that the digestive organs contained no traces of food is also indicative of poisoning since any stomach contents would most likely have been voided by vomiting after the ingestion of a toxic substance.
    A third theory, which remains popular to this day, was finally proposed, namely that Unknown Man E had been buried alive, probably for committing some terrible crime. Maspero even went so far as to suggest (in contradiction to his earlier 18'th Dynasty dating of the mummy) that Unknown Man E may actually be Pentewere, the 20'th Dynasty prince implicated in the famous harem conspiracy to assassinate Ramesses III. All the peculiar features of the burial seemed explicable given the assumption that Unknown Man E had been buried alive. His contorted expression, the fact that the organs had not been removed, the tightly bound wrappings, the taboo sheepskin, and the coffin lacking in the magical spells needed to safeguard the spirit of the deceased in the Underworld seemed to fit neatly with the theory of premature burial. (One could even interpret the two canes found with Unknown Man E as "bastinados" used to whip the soles of his feet during an interrogation prior to his premature burial.)
    All these theories make the following assumptions: (i.) that Unknown Man E had been "embalmed" by Egyptians; (ii.) that his facial expression indicated that he died in great pain; and (iii.) that the divergences from common Egyptian funerary practices found in his burial were forms of ritual degradation and punishment. These assumptions arose in the minds of observers whose evaluations of the burial were demonstrably discolored by subjective reactions to the admittedly unpleasant odor and physical appearance of the mummy. 
   
Had Maspero, Fouquet and Mathey not been so influenced by Unknown Man E's frightful grimace, they would have probably concluded that the unusual features of his burial had a more plausible explanation than the premature burial theory provided. These features seem to indicate that Unknown Man E's mummy had been prepared by non-Egyptian embalmers who were only partly familiar with Egyptian methods of preserving the dead, and exhibit the kind of "mixed" characteristics that one would expect in a burial that had occurred outside of Egypt in a territory of the Empire influenced to some extent by Egyptian customs. The use of natron as a preservative, the wrapping of the body in expensive linens, and the anthropoid coffin are all classic Egyptian elements. But the sheepskin shroud and the use of calcium oxide as a preservative are foreign features which can be traced to funerary practices in non-Egyptian parts of the Mediterranean.
    The use of calcium oxide seems to point toward an ancient Greek influence. In Greek, the word "sarcophagus" means "flesh eater" and was used to designate the large stone receptacles filled with quicklime (CaO) in which corpses were placed. Much more harsh in its desiccating properties than natural Egyptian natron, this chemical would have been avoided by Egyptian embalmers who wanted to preserve rather than destroy the tissues of the body. The Greeks who used this method of treating corpses mistakenly believed that Egyptian sarcophagi were employed for the same purpose. Whether this use of quicklime was peculiar to the Greeks or spread throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East is at present unknown to me. 
    The fact that the natron and quicklime mixture had been carefully distributed over Unknown Man E's body is inconsistent with the idea of premature burial. Even had he been tied and held down, the man would have struggled as the highly caustic chemical burned and destroyed his skin, thereby making its application far from neat. Maspero observed that those responsible for "embalming" Unknown Man E must have had a lot of experience in using this technique, and this further points to a non-Egyptian source for the method of preparing the mummy. Where in Egypt could one gain such experience? No other Egyptian mummy yet discovered was embalmed in this fashion.   
    The observation that the natron and lime mixture was still able to absorb moisture from the air indicates that it had not been completely hydrated, or saturated, by body fluids. Yet there is more than enough liquid in the body of an adult man to saturate the quantity of the chemicals used to coat Unknown Man E's body to the thickness measured by Mathey. Had these chemicals become saturated, it is unlikely that the fluids absorbed by them  would have evaporated over the years since they were covered with two layers of tightly bound bandages (with the innermost layer soaked in resins that had hardened to form a shell-like covering.) Over these was placed the sheepskin, and finally a coffin lid, all of which could have prevented the evaporation of any moisture absorbed by the hygroscopic chemicals. (That substances can endure for centuries in an aqueous condition is proven by the liquid found in the canopic chest of IV'th Dynasty Queen Hetepheres.) The fact that some calcium oxide was still present on Unknown Man E in an unhydrated state suggests that it was applied after his body had already been partly desiccated by some other means, perhaps by laying on hot sand in sunlight. This, of course, entails that he was dead when the embalmers wrapped him. 
    The fact that wool remained on the sheepskin which enshrouded Unknown Man E is also significant in that it proves that the hide had been cured. (Wool, fur and hair all slough off uncured hides.) It was not simply skinned and wrapped about the body in an untreated condition so that it would slowly shrink and suffocate the person unfortunate enough to be encased within. (Such a method of torture/execution was used by certain American Indian tribes, and it is sometimes stated incorrectly that this was how Unknown Man E met his end.) Since such sheepskins were deemed ritually unclean by the Egyptians one must wonder where in Egypt such a commodity, which would take time, skill, and experience to prepare, could be found. A more likely explanation for the sheepskin is that it had been prepared outside of Egypt in a country where such hides were valued and used in burials. In his article, Bickerstaffe points out that the Hyksos were buried with sheep, and that the Tale of Sinhue describes "Asiatics" as being buried wrapped in sheepskins. This again indicates that Unknown Man E was probably "embalmed" in a foreign country where sheepskins were cured and employed in a funereal context. 
    If Unknown Man E had lain in the open for some period of time, rigor mortis would have set in and he would have preserved the posture in which he died. The embalmers would have experienced difficulty in placing him in the traditional pose used in burials, and this might explain the tightness with which the bandages had been wrapped about the body. They needed to tightly wrap Unknown Man E in order to keep him straightened out. 
    Based on all these observations, it is possible to recreate a scenerio capable of explaining Unknown Man E's burial without recourse to the premature burial hypothesis. We know from the expensive linen wrappings, the golden earrings, the cedar wood coffin, and perhaps the two canes (which may be a sign of office) that Unknown Man E possessed high social rank. He may have been an Egyptian governor or dignitary of some sort living in one of the Palestinian outposts of the Egyptian Empire during the New Kingdom. (G. E. Smith confirmed Maspero's first opinion by dating the mummy to the XVIII'th Dynasty, no later than the reign of Tuthmosis II.) He may have died while hunting in the desert, and was not found immediately. By that time, the body had stiffened into a pose and facial expression inappropriate for burial, and had also become semi-desiccated. The provincial embalmers did their best to preserve him in a proper Egyptian manner, but fell back upon local embalming procedures and funerary customs. Unknown Man E was treated by these foreign embalmers with natron and quicklime, wrapped tightly to straighten his limbs into an acceptable position, and given a sheepskin shroud (which may have been a mark of honor among their race.) 
    Unknown Man E, like most adult Egyptians, had begun preparing for his funeral and already had an undecorated coffin made of locally obtained cedar wood. The local embalmers placed him in this coffin, and, since they probably did not know how to inscribe or decorate it in the traditional Egyptian manner, simply left it blank and shipped it, along with its occupant, back to Egypt. After arriving in Egypt, the horrified Egyptian necropolis officials would have discovered the offensive sheepskin. Not wishing to touch it, they decided to leave the coffin undecorated and buried Unknown Man E as quickly as possible in his own tomb. Since he was found in the DB 320 cache, we can be reasonably sure that his tomb was in the Valley of the Kings or close enough to the Valley to have been inspected by the necropolis officials in charge of caching the royal mummies. He had probably been held in high esteem by the ruling monarch (Tuthmosis II?) who had granted him the privilege of a tomb in the Royal Necropolis (much in the manner of Maihirpri.) He was discovered by the 20'th-'21'st Dynasty restorers who, considering only his rank and ignoring the sheepskin, reburied him in DB 320 with the other royal mummies. 
    That Maspero and his assistants did not come up with a scenario like the one just presented is probably due to their over-dramatization of Unknown Man E's facial expression. G. E. Smith remained entirely unmoved by it, however, and wrote in 1912 that any number of factors could have resulted in this type of expression at the time of death. He pointed out that other mummies who were certainly not buried alive had similarly gaping-mouthed expressions, and cited the mummy of Inhapi as an example. To this can be added the mummy of Merytamen, which, according to Bickerstaffe, looks like it's howling. (Click here to see Inhapi and Merytamen.) (Source Bibliography: BIE, series 2, no. 2, 1881; CCR, p. 39; DRN, pp. 200, 206, 212EMbm, pp. 67-68; KMT [Spring, 1999, vol. 10, no. 1], pp. 68-76; KMT [Winter 1992-1993, vol. 3, no. 4], p. 28; MiAE, p. 154; MMM, pp. 66-67; MR, p. 548-551, 778-782, 782-787; RM, p. 114ff.)
                                  
Photo Credit: RM (Cairo, 1912,) pl. XCIV. For high resolution photos of this mummy see the University of Chicago's Electronic Open Stacks copy of Smith's Royal Mummies (Cairo, 1912,) Call #: DT57.C2 vol59, plates XCIV and XCV.) 

Source Abbreviation Key

 
Dr. Bob Brier examines Unknown Man E. In recent years, the notion that
Unknown Man E may have been Pentaware, the Egyptian prince condemned
for conspiring to assassinate Ramesses III, has become popular once again.
Photo Source: Pat Remler/www.archeology.org.