Washington, Nov 22 : A new analysis of the "screaming mummy", an Egyptian mummy who died wearing a pained facial expression, has suggested that he could be Prince Pentewere, suspected of plotting the murder of his father, Pharaoh Ramses III.
According to a report in National Geographic News, recent examinations of the mummy, found in 1886 and now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, have helped archaeologists piece together a story of attempted murder, suicide, and conspiracy.
Called both "Unknown Man E" and the "Screaming Mummy" because of his open jaw and agonized expression, the mummy has baffled researchers since it was first uncovered.
Several archaeologists have proposed theories about the mummy's cause of death, saying he might have been buried alive or poisoned, or that he was a murdered Hittite prince during the reign of Tutankhamen.
Archaeologists now agree, however, that mummies are commonly found with their jaws open as a result of their heads falling back after death.
The Screaming Mummy was unlikely to have been a Hittite prince because that man probably would not have been mummified, according to those examining the corpse.
"They're not going to mummify this guy if they murdered him," said Bob Brier, an archaeologist at the University of Long Island in New York, who examined the body this year. "They're going to get rid of the body," he added.
The theory about poison, on the other hand, has not been totally ruled out.
Papyrus documents indicate a trial that took place in the 12th century B.C. for a wife of Pharaoh Ramses III. She was charged with conspiracy to murder the pharoah and put her son Pentewere in his place.
The mummy of "Unknown Man E" suggests an ignoble death, much like Pentewere would have received if this story were true, according to the archaeological team. "We found this mummy is covered in sheepskin and the sheepskin," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. "In the mind of the ancient Egyptian, this was not something royal," he added.
"To cover with sheepskin means he was not clean, he did something bad in his life," Hawass said.
Pentewere could have been sentenced to death by poison, after the murderous plans were revealed, according to Hawass and Brier.
The screaming mummy was found without a grave marking, which would have prevented him from reaching the afterlife, which may have been a possible additional punishment for being part of a murder plot.
Hawass said he plans to conduct DNA testing to confirm the mummy's connection to Ramses III.