The Princess of Amen-Ra lived in 1050 B.C. When she died, she was laid in an ornate wooden coffin and buried deep in a vault at Luxor, on the banks of the Nile.
In the 1880s, four rich young Englishmen visiting the excavations at Luxor were invited to buy an exquisitely fashioned mummy case containing the remains of the Princess of Amen-Ra. They drew lots. The man who won paid several thousand pounds and had the coffin taken to his hotel. A few hours later, he was seen walking out towards the desert. He never returned.
The "Unlucky Mummy".
This wooden coffin lid is the most popular exhibit in the British Museum, because of the reputation of its original owner of having sunk the Titanic.
The British Museum has repeatedly issued official denials that this coffin lid caused the death of 1500 persons in the Atlantic Ocean.
The British Museum has never satisfactorily explained what ever happened to the mummy that used to be under this coffin lid.
Nevertheless, the coffin reached England (causing other misfortunes along the way), where it was bought by a London businessman. After three of his family members had been injured in a road accident and his house damaged by fire, the businessman donated it to the British Museum. As the coffin was being unloaded from a wagon in the museum courtyard, the wagon suddenly went into reverse and trapped a passer-by. Then as the casket was being lifted up the stairs by two workmen, one fell and broke his leg. The other, apparently in perfect health, died unaccountably two days later.
Once the Princess was installed in the Egyptian Room, trouble really started. Museum's night watchmen frequently heard frantic hammering and sobbing from the coffin. Other exhibits in the room were also often hurled about at night. One watchman died on duty; causing the other watchmen wanting to quit. Cleaners refused to go near the Princess, too. When a visitor derisively flicked a dust cloth at the face painted on the coffin, his child died of measles soon afterwards.
Finally, the authorities had the mummy carried down to the basement, figuring it could not do any harm down there, while leaving the lid of the coffin on display. (The lid of the coffin (Exhibit No. 22542) is still there!) Within a week, one of the helpers was seriously ill, and the supervisor of the move was found dead on his desk.
By now, the papers had heard of it. A journalist photographer took a picture of the mummy case and when he developed it, the painting on the coffin was of a horrifying, human face. The photographer was said to have gone home then, locked his bedroom door and shot himself. Soon afterwards, the museum sold the mummy to a private collector. After continual misfortune (and deaths), the owner banished it to the attic. A well known authority on the occult, Madame Helena Blavatsky, visited the premises. Upon entry, she was sized with a shivering fit and searched the house for the source of "an evil influence of incredible intensity". She finally came to the attic and found the mummy case. "Can you exorcise this evil spirit?" asked the owner. "There is no such thing as exorcism. Evil remains evil forever. Nothing can be done about it. I implore you to get rid of this evil as soon as possible." But no British museum would take the mummy; the fact that almost 20 people had met with misfortune, disaster or death from handling the casket, in barely 10 years, was now well known.
Eventually, a hard-headed American archaeologist (who dismissed the happenings as quirks of circumstance), paid a handsome price for the mummy and arranged for its removal to New York. In April of 1912, the new owner escorted its treasure aboard a sparkling, new White Star liner about to make its maiden voyage to New York.
Because the reputation of the mummy was well known, the owner, who was a chess player named William T. Stead , was afraid that his cargo would not be loaded. Therefore, he secretly arranged for the mummy to be hidden under the body of a new Renault automobile which was being transported to America on the ship. Stead did not reveal the truth about his cargo to the other passengers until the night before the next disaster.
On the night of April 14, amid scenes of unprecedented horror, the Princess of Amen-Ra accompanied 1,500 passengers to their deaths at the bottom of the Atlantic.
The name of the ship was Titanic.
In 1934, Wallis Budge, Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities of the British Museum, wrote: "No mummy which ever did things of this kind was ever in the British Museum."
Only well-behaved mummies are now allowed inside the British Museum, officials say.
Nevertheless, thousands of visitors flock to the British Museum each year to see the sarcophagus which once held the mummy that sunk the Titanic.