Mummy Story 4:
The Mummy on the Titanic
This story was making the rounds on the Internet:
The Egyptian princess of Amen-Ra lived some 3,500 years. When she died, she was laid in an ornate wooden coffin and buried deep in a vault at Luxor, on the banks of the Nile. In the late 1890s, four rich young Englishmen visiting the excavations at Luxor were invited to buy an exquisitely fashioned mummy case containing the remains of Princess of Amen-Ra. They drew lots. The man who won paid several thousand pounds and had the coffin taken to his hotel. A few hours later, he was seen walking out towards the desert. He never returned.
The next day, one of the remaining three men was shot accidentally. His arm was so severely wounded it had to be amputated. The third man in the foursome found on his return home that the bank holding his entire savings had failed. The fourth man suffered a severe illness, lost his job, and was reduced to begging in the street.
Still, the coffin reached England (causing other misfortunes along the way), where it was bought by a London businessman. After three of his family members had been injured in a road accident and his house damaged by fire, the businessman donated it to the British Museum. As the coffin was being unloaded from a truck in the museum courtyard, the truck suddenly went into reverse and trapped a passer-by. Then as the casket was being lifted up the stairs by two workmen, one fell and broke his leg. The other, apparently in perfect health, died unaccountably two days later.
Once the Princess was installed in the Egyptian Room, trouble really started. Museum's night watchmen frequently heard frantic hammering and sobbing from the coffin. Other exhibits in the room were also often hurled about at night. One watchman died on duty, causing the other watchmen wanting to quit. Cleaners refused to go near the Princess too.
Eventually, the museum sold the mummy to a private collector. After continual misfortune (and deaths), the owner banished it to the attic. A well-known authority on the occult, Madame Helena Blavatsky, visited the premises. Upon entry, she was sized with a shivering fit and searched the house for the source of "an evil influence of incredible intensity." She finally came to the attic and found the mummy case.
"Can you exorcise this evil spirit?" asked the owner. "There is no such thing as exorcism. Evil remains evil forever. Nothing can be done about it. I implore you to get rid of this evil as soon as possible." But no British museum would take the mummy; the fact that almost 20 people had met with misfortune, disaster or death from handling the casket, in barely 10 years, was now well known.
Eventually, a hard-headed American archaeologist (who dismissed the happenings as quirks of circumstance), paid a handsome price for the mummy and arranged for its removal to New York. In April 1912, the new owner escorted its treasure aboard a sparkling, new White Star liner about to make its maiden voyage to New York. On the night of April 14th, amid scenes of unprecedented horror,the Princess of Amen-Ra accompanied 1,500 passengers to their deaths at the bottom of the Atlantic.
Of course, the name of the ship was Titanic....
Since this story appeared, many people have wondered, why the famous movie about the Titanic never mentions the mummy?
Here are the facts:
The simple answer is that the story is not true. Yes, there is an "unlucky mummy" but it has no name (the British Museum refers to it as No. 22542). According to one of the foremost authors on the subject of mummies, Carol Andrews (in the book Egyptian Mummies), the mummy was reported to be aboard the Titanic, but No. 22542 hasn't left the British Museum since it was delivered there about 1889. What's more, No. 22542 is not even a mummy, simply the lid of the inner coffin.
Professor Bob Brier (in his book The Encyclopedia of Mummies) explains the beginning of the hoax this way:
The story was initiated early in this century by Douglas Murray and T. W. Stead, two Englishmen who claimed they knew of a mummy brought to England and placed in a drawing room of an acquaintance. The morning after the mummy arrived, everything breakable in the room was destroyed. The mummy was moved to several rooms in the house, each time with the same result. Soon after these supposed events, Murray and Stead visited the First Egyptian Room of the British Museum, where they saw the coffin lid (No. 22542) of a Priestess of Amun. They decided that the face on the lid was that of a tormented soul and told this to the newspapers, which were eager to print sensational stories [especially about mummies and curses]. Soon the coffin lid became identified with the destructive mummy....
So the story is clearly a hoax (though you can find the story in books that will tell you it is real). No matter: it's fun to think about anyway. And if you go to the British Museum, you will find No. 22542 in the Egyptian Mummy Rooms on the second floor.