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Friday, 11 March 2016

Your A Long Time Dead

As we have had something of a Fortean trend going on the recent posts .... I thought I might tale this off with an oddity from Torquay. The museum there apparently houses some ancient Egyptian items. One of which is the mummy of a young royal boy named Psamtek who had been interred around 600 BC. Oddly he had been reusing an older tenants Mummy casket, because it is around a millennium older than his bones. Presumably they had evicted the original occupant, although that was not confirmed in reports.

The heavy and hermetically sealed glass case protecting the mummy and casket from the public’s wandering (and often thieving), hands, had not been opened in seven years, and in any case was so heavy that the last time it been lifted, it had taken the efforts of seven men to do so, according to the Museum keeper.

Psamtek - Casket Stealer.

However, on the 16th of October 2015, the clear prints of two fingers and a thumb were discovered on the inside of the thick glass casing. It is a mystery how they have come to be there and reportedly the local 'ghost hunters' got very excitable over thediscovery, as they had recently been holding paranormal experience events at the museum.

This all reminded me of the old late Victorian 'urban myth', of the premature burial, where the coffin was exhumed and opened up, only for the grave robbers, dissection students, or officers of the court to discover that there were scratch marks on the inside of the lid. Despite this being a popular theme of Gothic horror books of the time (and in Hammer Horror movies in the 1960's), it’s not actually clear that there were any proven cases of this happening. However it was a fact, that then, and indeed now, people would occasionally 'wake up' from a death like state, only to find themselves in the undertakers, or the morgue.

No doubt this sort of reported event, led to the understandable belief that if these near burial events could occur, so then it stood to reason that there must be some unfortunates who 'woke up' too late .... so the inventive Victorians came up with some intricate and strange ways to allay their fears. The most obvious (and perhaps best), was the bell with a string leading down a tube into the coffin .... however depending upon where that bell was situated, it may or may not have been of any use. There was also the obvious danger of 'false alarms' if birds or the wind, set the bell ringing. 

Premature Burial Was A Real Victorian Fear ...

But there were other methods devised, such as coffins with locks that could be opened from the inside (these were for Mausoleums, Crypts, Mortuary’s and Vaults etc) ... no doubt knowing the Victorians, there were other ingenious, but possibly less useful, ideas patented (although probably never deployed).

And in case you thought this is all old hat, in August 2015 it was reported that sixteen-year-old Neysi Perez from Honduras, had been accidentally buried alive, after doctors pronounced that she was dead. Her husband heard her apparently awake and scream for help in her coffin, but after breaking into her concrete tomb, they found she was dead.

But according to relatives, she was still warm, with bruises on her fingertips, and the glass viewing pane on her coffin had been smashed ..... makes you shiver like a Victorian!

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