What makes a mummy scream? Being forced to commit suicide, it would seem. Granted this forced suicide—and if it’s forced, can it even really be called suicide?—was likely better than the alternative, which was a gruesome public execution. Prince Pentaweret was royalty, though, the son of Pharaoh Ramses III, so he got special treatment. In what is known as the “Harem Conspiracy” ol’ Ramses le troi was assassinated. His wife Tiye, mother of Pentaweret, was one of the masterminds. She wanted her baby boy to become Pharaoh instead of the actual heir. It didn’t work, and all those involved in the assassination were executed.
The mummy of “Unknown Man E,” aka the Screaming Mummy because of the horrid rictus expression on its face, an eternal, silent scream, has been linked through DNA analysis to Ramses III and thus is believed to be the body of Pentaweret. After being forced to kill himself, Pentaweret’s body was not mummifed and the remains were wrapped in sheepskin, believed by the Egyptians to be impure. The aridity and heat of the desert are responsible for the preservation of the mummy, not any effort made by those who buried it.
Did Pentaweret die screaming? Or did he begin to scream *afterward,” aghast at the disrespectful treatment shown to his mortal remains?