10-year-old finds mummy in grandmother’s attic

Ten-year-old Alexander Kettler was playing in his grandmother’s attic in Diepholz, a city in the northern German province of Lower Saxony, when he found one large and two small wooden cases stashed behind some shingles. He told his father and grandmother and neither of them had any idea where the boxes had come from or what was inside of them. When they opened up the biggest case, they found a sarcophagus holding a linen-wrapped humaniform figure that looks like Boris Karloff in The Mummy. Inside the smaller cases the Kettlers found an earthenware death mask and a canopic jar, vessels ancient Egyptians used to store the viscera during mummification.

Alexander’s father, dentist Lutz Wolfgang Kettler, thinks these artifacts may have been acquired by his father in the 1950s. Grandfather Kettler wasn’t much of a talker, apparently, and his son doesn’t know if he was ever in Egypt, but he does vaguely recall a mention of a trip to Libya. It would have been a relatively simple matter to purchase a mummy in the North Africa of the 1950s and have it shipped back to Germany.

Dr. Kettler plans load the sarcophagus into his Mercedes station wagon and drive the mummy to Berlin so an archaeologist friend of his can examine it. He plans to have the mummy X-rayed to confirm or deny if there are actual human remains in there. Even if the cases are modern reproductions or deliberate fakes fobbed off on German tourists, the mummy could be genuine and ancient.

I’m going to go on the record right now and say that I don’t think there’s any way the mummy is real. The linens are so clean and neat, and as I discovered to my shock when I was Alexander’s age, genuine ancient Egyptian mummies aren’t actually wrapped the way poor, long-suffering Boris Karloff was wrapped for the movie. I bet it’s just linen stuffed with materials shaped into a person.

The rest of the objects are blatantly inauthentic, so much so that I find it hard to believe they’re even fakes. The sarcophagus decorations are repeated like a wallpaper motif and the box is lined with fabric in an Egyptianish print that is not even trying to look real. The mask is shiny and new. The canopic jar is oversized, crudely shaped and has “hieroglyphics” that could easily pass for notepad doodles. All three objects and their containers look not just like fakes, but like theatrical props, in my opinion, which does not in any way diminish the excellence of Alexander finding a mummy in the attic. In fact, I’m hoping that Grandpa Kettler deliberately hid them in the attic for his future grandchildren to find.

Meanwhile, police announced Monday that they’ll be looking into this matter. If there does prove to be a body under all that linen, the authorities will initiate an inquest into the cause of death. All in all, Alexander had one hell of a playday.

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13 Comments »

Comment by bort
2013-08-07 11:08:25

:skull:

This is the real true origin for Norman Bates. Mark my words! In 30 years we’ll be reading the True Crime story about it.

:skull:

Comment by livius drusus
2013-08-10 05:23:38

Way too much work to get in this kind of mummy drag.

 
 
Comment by Lorne
2013-08-07 19:47:08

I saw this blog entry linked on americandigest.org, and I am reposting the comment I made there:

“Many years ago, right after I got out of the Navy, I lived in Spokane, Washington, in an old house that had been badly renovated by the owner as a rooming house for students. I lived in the basement in a room that was simply blocked off from the rest of the basement by cheap fake-wood paneling. It had nasty green-yellow indoor-outdoor carpeting on the floor and cheap, but brand new motel furniture. No windows, but it was quiet, bug free and very cheap. Unless I had a light on, it was pitch black down there.

Anyway, I was working long hours and it was just a place to sleep. After I’d been there a few weeks, I decided to clean the place up a bit. The basement had stone walls which went up about four feet, then they formed a sort of a deep shelf which went back to the bearing wall.

There was leftover wood from the owner’s building project and other junk. Right against the back bearing wall I found a small lead lined coffin, made out of unvarnished wood and completely sealed with bolts which ran around the outside. There was a small window in the lid. There was the shrivelled corpse of a baby inside. The baby had a lock of blonde hair, and a couple of small white teeth peeping out of the partially opened mouth. It was wearing what looked like a white silk dress. There was no name or nameplate on the coffin.

I called the landlord and the police and the police took the coffin away. The cops were never able to find out anything about the baby, but they thought the coffin and clothing were from the Nineteenth Century.

Never had any creepy feelings about this event, and it didn’t bother me to stay in the room after that, but it was very odd.”

Comment by livius drusus
2013-08-10 05:19:25

Wow. That is an amazing story. I probably would have been both creeped out and moved. Not to mention terribly curious about how the baby got there. Isn’t it weird that the landlord didn’t find her when he was renovating?

 
 
Comment by Ambrosius
2013-08-07 20:52:30

Perhaps ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ or Carnival side show props from the 1900s.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-08-10 05:20:35

Very plausible. Mummies were big on the P. T. Barnum circuit.

 
 
Comment by Karen
2013-08-08 10:32:39

I was going to comment worrying about poor Alexander’s mental health after stumbling across something like that, until I read Lorne’s comment. Now I’m going to worry about being able to get to sleep tonight.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-08-10 05:22:37

I like to think Alexander was more excited than scared, although when I was half his age I got nightmares from an episode of a Wonder Woman cartoon where she broke into a pyramid and had a conversation with Anubis.

 
 
Comment by cordate
2013-08-08 15:33:43

“I’m hoping that Grandpa Kettler deliberately hid them in the attic for his future grandchildren to find. ”

This gets my vote! I agree that the objects look rather inauthentic, but what a treat to leave for the kids to find!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-08-10 05:13:47

If I had found a mummy in the attic when I was 10, I probably would have died of happiness/the mummy’s curse on the spot.

 
 
Comment by trickynicky
2013-08-09 04:47:51

Nice travel coffin. If no props, ‘Tut-Ankh-Kettler’ is probably a relative or the housemaid. My next guess would be the bass player that went missing of this rock band.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-08-10 05:13:07

:lol: @ Tut-Ankh-Kettler and the swath of bodies.

 
 
Comment by Lorne
2013-08-10 09:58:16

The landlord was not only a bad and sloppy carpenter, he did the bare minimum. When we all moved in there was still sawdust on the floor, bits of wood lying about, etc.

The basement stairs must have been in bad shape because the landlord had replaced them. They were sturdy enough but unpainted and unfinished and he hadn’t bothered to put in a guard rail.

There was lots of junk in the basement obviously left over from other owners, like old bicycles, old wooden boxes, an old trunk, things like that. The owner just shoved the stuff aside to make his improvements. My room had plenty of artificial light in the front, but no lights in the back half. The coffin was right up against the back wall, and hard to see. I”m sure the owner never noticed it.

Pardon the wall of text, but I’m amazed at how much I remember about this forty year old event. Hadn’t thought about this in years until the OP triggered my memory. The place sounds awful but we cleaned it up and had some pretty good parties there. As I recall my rent was twenty dollars per month. The other guys paid more because they had actual bedrooms with windows.

 
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