Sept. 28, 2013 -- A mysterious mummy found in a German attic has kept experts busy for several weeks. Now they have finally determined it's a fake.
For weeks, experts have been trying to determine whether a mysterious mummy found by a German boy in his grandmother's attic is authentic. The answer appears to be: yes and no. It has a real human skull, but a plastic skeleton, the news agency DPA reported Wednesday.
The mummy was sent out for analysis not long after the 10-year-old boy found it in the Lower Saxony town of Diepholz in August. While some experts dismissed it as a fake immediately, one insisted that the remains could be some 2,000 years old.
The mummy, which was housed in a padded sarcophagus painted with Egyptian symbols, underwent radiological analysis in Diepholz, which seemed to reveal that it contained a human skull and what was thought to be a skeleton, oddly wrapped in metal foil.
It was then examined by the district of Verden's public prosecutor's office. This closer look has revealed that while it has an authentic skull, the skeleton is actually made of plastic. "The mummy was unwrapped and it was clear relatively quickly that its contents are not ancient," Lutz Gaebel, spokesman for the prosecutor's office, told DPA Wednesday.
It is also unlikely that the skull, while real, came from ancient Egypt. "It appears to be a medically prepared specimen for educational use," Gaebel said.
An arrowhead through one of the eye sockets that was revealed during the initial radiological analysis turned out to be a plastic child's toy. The skull will undergo further examination, but otherwise the case is closed, according to the public prosecutor's office.
The confusion over the mummy's authenticity appears to have come from the fact that the plastic skeleton was sprayed with an unidentified substance, making it difficult to determine what it was made of. The public prosecutor's office itself had initially said that it believed the mummy could be some 2,000 years old.
It remains uncertain just how the odd discovery came to be housed in the Diepholz attic. Dentist Lutz-Wolfgang Kettler, whose son found the mummy, has speculated that his grandfather may have brought it home from his travels in northern African in the 1950s.
According to speculation by the regional daily Kreiszeitung, the mummy could have been a fake made to swindle tourists looking for antiquities in northern Africa, or perhaps as a joke of some sort.
kla -- with wires