A mummy hoax with Photoshop
Enquiring minds wanted to know about the front page story of the Weekly World News for the week of October 8, 2002. Could the cover story be true?
The Story (really, the hoax)
The headlines announce: "3000-year-old mummy to be a mommy! Sonograms reveal a faint heartbeat of unborn child in mummy's womb, say doctors."
Then the story goes on to report (datelined Cairo) that Dr. Anwar Said of the National Academy of Archaeology dug up the mummy last March. At the time, according to Said, the female mummy was not pregnant. Dr. Said told the WWN reporter that the mummy "appears to be about 24-years-old and from a high social order, perhaps royalty or a favored concubine. We cannot determine exactly who she was, and how she died, or why she was preserved so remarkably."
Apparently, a custodian at the National Academy of Archaeology fell in love with the mummy ("mummy dearest," the article says) and she became pregnant. The fetus "appears to be eight months old and in perfect health." (Stupid Question #1: If the mummy wasn't pregnant in March...how could the fetus be 8 months old now at the beginning of October?)
How could a mummy become a mummy? Dr. Said theorized that "perhaps the mysterious liquid which preserved the mother so remarkably is connected with the amniotic fluid sustaining the baby."
What is truly remarkable is that the National Academy of Archaeology recently built a delivery room (Stupid Question #2: Will an archaeologist perform the delivery? Stupid Question #3: Do they expect more mummified mummies to be delivered and therefore need a delivery room?).
Finally, Dr. Said noted that the female mummy was buried with her favorite objects including a silver baby rattle. "It's as if the mummy knew she was destined to be a mommy some day," Dr. Said concluded. "It may be happening 3000 years late, but it is happening. Too bad she won't be alive to witness this unbelievable miracle."
As soon as I saw the mummy on the cover of the WWN, I knew I recognized the photo. Take a look:
WWN's FEMALE MUMMY
KING SETHOS I
Do you see more than a little similarity (except for the doctored abdomen of the pregnant mummy) between the two photos? King Sethos (sometimes called Seti) I is one of the best preserved royal mummies ever found in Egypt, and the first king to have his palms laid flat against his chest. He lived during the 19th Dynasty (his tomb was robbed, his mummy damaged, but was later repaired during the 21st Dynasty). Clearly the female mummy is actually Sethos I, who now resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Could the King be pregnant? Perhaps...if it would sell more tabloids.
You know better than to be fooled by the WWN. Could a dead person conceive a child? Absolutely not. On the other hand, a number of pregnant mummies have been found (they may well have died during child birth or of complications during the pregnancy)...but sonograms have not revealed any beating hearts!
In January 2003, the Weekly World News was at it again with a follow-up announcement: "3,000-year-old mummy has baby boy! Miracle birth baffles docs!"
The story went on to recount the details of the conception (a sick janitor at the non-existent National Academy of Archaeology was involved) and the birth (C-section). The reader was told that the baby boy weighed 4 pounds, 6 ounces and was named Tut! Of course, the tabloid told readers that the Egyptian government refused to discuss this case.
Whatever you do, don't buy the WWN, unless you like to collect Stupid Human Stories.