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  The Unknown Man

Perhaps one of the most intriguing mummies from ancient Egypt was also found in TT320, but it's identity is unknown.

The body was found in an plain, white coffin - there was a complete lack of any inscriptions which may have given some clue as the occupant. Once the coffin was opened a shrivelled sheep skin was found within - only when this sheepskin was opened in Cairo was the mummy discovered.

As the sheepskin was opened a foul, repulsive smell was noticed (most mummies tend to have a sweet odour) - a witness at the time gave their thoughts on the agonised face of the mummy:

'It is difficult to give an adequate description of the face thus laid bare. I can only say that no countenance has ever more faithfully recreated a picture of such affecting and hideous agony. His features, horribly distorted, surely showed that the wretched man must have been deliberately asphyxiated, most probably by being buried alive'.

Buried alive?

Was the man indeed buried alive? His hands and feet had been bound together, his internal organs had not been removed from his body as would normally be the case in the mummification procedure (the only sign of any attempt at mummification was the evidence of some natron around the skin). The body had survived due to the lack of air within its sheepskin cocoon and the dry conditions within the tomb itself. (The mummy is thought to have possibly dated to the 18th Dynasty)

As noted above the coffin does not have any identifying marks about the mummy - had this person been a criminal ? (most criminals would have been executed), why such an elaborate death? (Even the sealing inside the sheepskin has meaning - the ancient Egyptians considered it ritually unclean). Whatever his crime, his final resting place would indicate that in life he was influential and possibly of royal birth ?

(The pained expression has been explained by some as not as someone making their last gasps for air, but rather could be the position that the body would take after death).

Your thoughts?

Who was this man? How did he die?

If you have any thoughts, send them to me, ib205@cus.cam.ac.uk, I shall post them here and let others read what you think!