In 1886, Gaston Maspero, the head of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, was unwrapping mummies out of their sarcophagi, when he came across an unusually plain burial box. Unlike the kings and queens this particular box didn’t give any information as to the identity of the stuff inside. Even stranger, the body was wrapped in sheepskin, which was considered unclean by ancient Egyptians. When he finally uncovered it, Gaston also found that the corpse’s hands and feet had been bound for some unspeakable reason. And then, as he slowly panned his gaze upward. He found this screaming, undead face looking back at him.
Because of the strange coverings, the bound hands and the seemingly tortured expression, experts theorized that the body (creatively named Unknown Man ) had been poisoned, buried alive or otherwise tortured before his untimely death. Now that we’ve done extensive studies on mummification and seen quite a few more intact examples, however, we understand how silly that theory was. Not because the “screaming mummy” was just a fluke, but because they’re all screaming all the time.
If the jaw isn’t strapped shut when a body is mummified, it naturally falls open during the process of decay, leaving a permanent “scream.” Most modern burial practices account for this.But not all cultures take closing the jaw into account, or sometimes the knots tying the mouth shut just slip.
That’s why, since Unknown Man , there have been several more “screaming” mummies found in various digs all around the world.