Last week, 10-year-old Alex Kettler stumbled upon three mysterious cases in a corner of his grandmother's attic. Neither his grandmother nor his father knew what was inside — so they pried them open to take a look. You can imagine their surprise at discovering a large sarcophagus holding a true-to-life mummy.
When they opened the other cases, they found an earthenware Egyptian death mask and a Canopic Jar — a container in which the ancient Egyptians stored the entrails of the deceased.
The mummy itself is wrapped in the kind of bandages one would expect, and measures 5.2 feet (1.6 meters) in length.
So how did the seemingly ancient relics get into an attack in Lower Saxony? Alexander's dad, Lutz Wolfgang Kettler, can only speculate. From Der Spiegel:
His father, who passed away 12 years ago, went traveling through North Africa in the 1950s, but spoke very little of his travels. "He was of the older generation who experienced a lot in the war and didn't really talk about anything. I do seem to remember him mentioning having been to the city of Derna in Libya," says Kettler. Had Kettler's father purchased the sarcophagus on his trip, it would have been possible for him to ship it to Diepholz via Bremerhaven.
Though Egyptomania had peaked a century earlier, trends like so-called mummy parties, where revelers got together and unwrapped a mummy to see what was inside, persisted through the middle of the 20th century. It's possible, suggests Kettler, that his father had something like this in mind.
There's a very real possibility that the items are fake; the sarcophagus and death masks appear to be replicas. But Kettler feels there's a good chance the mummy is real. To prove it, he'll be driving the mummy up to Berlin where it'll be analyzed under X-rays by an archaeologist friend.
"You just don't get the feeling that's something you could buy at a shop around the corner," he told Der Spiegel.