The Mummy’s Curse
London is full of ghosts, but the best supernatural story in Bloomsbury concerns a mummy’s curse.
On the first floor of the British Museum are various rooms devoted to artefacts from ancient Egypt.
There are several mummies and sarcophagi on display, but the one in question is numbered EA 22542 and is in Room 62.
The mummy case 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 — about 950 to 900 BC
It is listed as a mummy case for an unknown singer to the god Amon Ra. The case is covered in hieroglyphs and has a portrait of a very beautiful young girl.
The mummy clearly had a long history before being found by Europeans, but the weirdness associated with it begins in the 1880s.
It is said that a group of English tourists in Egypt bought the mummy case in Thebes from a local trader. This trader didn’t say where he’d got it — but grave robbing was very common in those times to supply demand from Westerners keen to have something of Egypt’s history.
The holy mummia was a powerful medicine and those in search of healing would eat the dried mummy flesh. By the 16th Century in Europe, mummia or ground up mummy flesh was considered one of the most efficacious of medicines. For more on this read David Castleton.
The European craze with Ancient Egypt was at one of its heights in the Nineteenth Century after Napoleon’s campaign there in 1799
For the British population, the British takeover of Egypt in 1882 — which lasted until after the Second World War — opened up the country to British citizens and fuelled a fashion in all things Egyptian.
Egyptomania had a further surge in the 1920s, after Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.
From the day they purchased the mummy case, accidents started to happen.
The new owner was injured in a hunting accident the next day. After that, one of the Englishmen in the party mysteriously vanished, never to be seen again.
The owner of the mummy case had to have his arm amputated after the accident and…