They thought it was phony, but it turned out to be scary. Radiological analysis of a mummy, found by a boy in his grandmother's attic in Germany, has turned out to be real. Examiners saying it contain real human bones. The revelation has got police interested, and the boy's father finds the situation "uncomfortable." The only person who has all the answers - the boy's grandfather - will not respond, for he died 12 years ago.
In early Aug, 10-year-old Alexander Kettler, was playing in his grandmother's attic in the town of Diepholz in northern German state of Lower Saxony. He chanced upon three mysterious looking cases kept in a cluttered corner. Neither his grandmother nor his father, knew what it contained. Curious, they hauled it out, and to their amazement, discovered the mummy in the sarcophagus.
"There was a huge sarcophagus and inside a mummy," Lutz Wolfgang Kettler, 53, the boy's father and a local dentist, was quoted in German magazine Der Spiegel. "Then we opened the other cases and found an earthenware Egyptian death mask and a Canopic Jar," he said, referring to a container in which the ancient Egyptians kept the entrails of the deceased who had been mummified.
The senior Kettler thought his own father might have brought the sarcophagus and other souvenirs from his travels in North Africa in the 1950s. Examination of the mummy was done at the Diepholz hospital to ascertain whether the mummy contained actual human remains and how old they might be.
Radiological analysis showed that beneath the bandages was a real human skull with an arrowhead in one of its eye sockets. In addition there were plates decorated with hieroglyphics - ancient Egyptian formal writing. The bones, examiners said, was wrapped in metal foil, because of which, further radiological examinations could not be carried out. Spiegel quoted a local daily newspaper Kreiszeitung, saying the mummy got a CT scan and X-rays on Thursday.
Reports said, the scans showed the carefully wrapped object contains a skull, and a relatively intact skeleton. Apart from the skull, the bones are wrapped in a kind of metal foil, making further X-ray analysis impossible. Reports said the results, came as a surprise even to Kettler. "No one expected that," he says. "Everyone thought it was a fake."
In fact, a Berlin archaeologist had determined that the material used to wrap the 1.49-meter (4.9-foot) mummy dated back to the 20th century, and was probably machine-made linen or cotton bandaging. Der Spiegel quoted Andreas Nerlich, head of pathology at Munich's Bogenhausen Clinic as saying that the mummy is in no way, a typical Egyptian mummy.
"We're dealing with an imitation," said Nerlich. "But a human body, and perhaps more than one, were used to make it." Experts say a missing neck vertebrae points to the possibility that the bones could belong to more than one body. However, reports said, experts are baffled by use of metal to cover the skeleton. "Someone went to a lot of trouble to wrap the bones in this covering," say Nerlich. "Perhaps they anticipated an X-Ray examination, because this is definitely a hindrance."
Police have now confiscated the mummy which will now be examined by forensic experts in Hamburg. "If it turns out that the death occurred 3,000 years ago, then we won't pursue the case any further," Jann Scheerer, spokesman for the Verden public prosecutor's office was quoted as saying. "But we will if the person responsible for the obviously violent death could still be alive."
Kettler, though has mixed feelings. "It's a somewhat uncomfortable situation," he admits. Keen to know how his father acquired the mummy he says, "I insist on further examination."
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