A Diseased Love Muscle Created the Ancient Egyptian "Screaming Woman Mummy"
The famous Deir el-Bahari Royal Cache was discovered in Luxor, Egypt, in 1881. This treasure trove dates to the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, having been deposited by the ruling Meshwesh ancient Libyans when they hid their ancestral corpses from grave robbers. The cache included two interesting mummies, which have become known as "The Screaming Man Mummy” and the Screaming Woman Mummy.”
In 2020, renowned Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass and Sahar Saleem, professor of radiology at Cairo University who specializes in scanning ancient mummies, performed CT scans and DNA analysis of “The Screaming Man” mummy. They determined that the corpse belonged of Prince Pentawere, son of King Ramses III.
Having been accused of conspiring to kill his father, Prince Pentawere was forced to commit suicide by hanging in a series of events historians call “The Harem Plot.” Since the priesthood deemed him unclean, Pentawere’s corpse wasn’t mummified like the others, but wrapped in a lowly sheep-skin, while all of the other royal mummies had been carefully wrapped in white linens before being mummified.
Cause of Death of the Second Screaming Mummy
According to a report on Ahram, also discovered in 1881 in the Deir el-Bahari Cache was the mummy of a woman displaying a look of acute terror. She had a frozen scream on her face and as such she has become known as the “The Screaming Woman Mummy.” With her head leaning to the right, her legs are bent and wrapped at the ankles, while all of the other mummies were found with their mouths closed in a straight lying position.
Attempting to solve why the apparently screaming female had been laid to rest differently than all the other mummies and what might have caused her screaming look, Zahi Hawass and Sahar Selim asked if perhaps she had suffered a similarly violent fate as Prince Pentawere?
The Screaming Woman Mummy. (Cairo University)
Ancient hieratic linen scrolls refer to this screaming woman mummy as “The Royal Daughter, The Royal Sister Meritamen,” but nevertheless, because so many princesses shared the same name it was labelled “The Mummy of the Unknown Woman’. However, according to a report in Egypt Today, the results of the new Siemens CT scan indicate that the screaming mummy had once been “a woman who died in her sixties and that her body (unlike that of Pentawere) had received great care from the mummifiers who removed her viscera and inserted expensive materials such as resin and scents in her body cavity, using pure linen to wrap the mummy”.
Science Captured the Hidden Killer Within the Screaming Mummy
The researchers concluded that the circumstances leading to the death of the “Unknown woman ’s mummy” (Screaming Woman Mummy,) were different from the circumstances leading to the demise of “The mummy of the screaming man.” Furthermore, this high-tech scanning technique produced Computerized Tomography indicating the woman had suffered severe atherosclerosis affecting many arteries throughout her body.
Atherosclerosis (Arterial sclerosis,) is a degenerative disease caused by the narrowing of the arterial cavity and blockage of the blood vessels. The CT scans identified areas of high calcification within the woman’s arterial walls.
CT scans reveal the Egyptian princess died of a massive heart attack. The results show she suffered from a severe case of atherosclerosis that affected a number of her arteries. (Cairo University)
The “heart attack” was written about in Egypt 3500 years ago and today the vast majority of modern clinical studies present coronary hardening disease as the number one leading cause of sudden death in adults. The more recent study assumed that coronary vascular thrombosis damaged the screaming woman’s heart muscle, which caused her sudden heart attack.
It is also likely that she was in exactly the same body position, with her legs bent and wrapped at the ankle, as she was discovered, and that her sudden death event caused her head to tilt to the right and the jaw muscles to relax, causing her mouth open, and to freeze in what appears to be a horrific scream.
- The Mystery of the Screaming Mummy
- Why Do We Love (and Fear) Mummies?
- Enduring Mystery of the Screaming Mummy: Mortal Wounds and Divine Justice—Part I
A Disease of the Love Muscle
While the new study is incredibly vivid in its description of how the woman felt physically when she died: no CT scan or scientist will ever know to what extent she must have suffered mentally. The reason in today’s world we associate our hearts with emotions, especially love, is because the ancient Egyptians believed the heart, not the brain, was the divine source of emotions. They also believed it to be the chamber of memories, the storehouse of universal wisdom, the repository of the soul, and the core of personality itself.
Knowing, or thinking, the very seat of her soul was diseased must have caused her unimaginable trauma as she approached death, and the poor woman must have been consumed with worry regarding the destiny of her soul.
Top Image: The ‘Screaming Mummy’ of the woman about to be scanned. Source: Cairo University
By Ashley Cowie