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Thursday, January 29, 2009


Remember this movie?

Well of course, who wouldn't.

No I'm not here to talk about the movie, or Leo DiCaprio, or Kate Winslet.

There have been various theories as to why the Titanic sank. We all know it as: the side of the ship hit an iceberg, water flowed in, within hours, it sank. After some deeper research I conducted yesterday, it's extremely interesting to find out various aspects of the incident, both scientifically and spiritually.

Perhaps the most popular alternative theory is that the ship sank due to a mummy's curse. To me the fascinating thing is that this 'theory', which is of course false, caused other stories to arise, making the topic more and more convoluted and complex.
Here is the excerpt from a book published in 1992, called Amazing Spooks and Mysteries by Peter Edlin:

The Mummy's Curse

In 1910, Douglas Murray, an Englishman, bought an ancient Egyptian mummy-case in Cairo. The case had contained the mummified body of a princess who had lived in Thebes in 1600 BC. Just a few hours after he had purchased the case, the American who had sold it to him died mysteriously. Following the American's death, Douglas Murray learned that the princess had been a member of a powerful religious cult and she had placed a dreadful curse on anyone who dared to disturb her final resting place.

Murray was an experienced Egyptologist and he had learned many stories of curses, so he paid very little attention. But then, a few days later, he was on a shooting expedition when his gun went off in his hands. He was so badly injured that his arm had to be amputated from his elbow. Then, on the journey back to England, two of Murray's companions died suddenly. A few months later, two of his Egyptian workers also died in mysterious circumstances.

Murray decided that he must get rid of the accursed mummy-case, and a lady offered to buy it from him. Almost immediately, her mother died, and then her boyfriend left her. When, eventually, she fell desperately ill, her lawyer persuaded her to return the mummy-case to Douglas Murray.

Murray presented the case to the British Museum, where a photographer and an Egyptologist both suddenly died. Finally, a New York museum agreed to take the case and it was shipped to America on a new, 'unsinkable' ship - called the Titanic. The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank, taking with her almost 1500 people - and the dreaded mummy's curse.

So there you have it. That's one version. Apparently the princess was in actual fact the Princess of Amen-Ra. According to some sources, the best documented version of this tale never mentions Douglas Murray. In other instances, it is portrayed that the ghost story was originally concocted by two Englishmen named William Stead and Douglas Murray.

Stead and Murray crafted an elaborate horror story about a mummy that was brought to England and set up in their drawing room. The morning after, everything breakable in the room was destroyed. Some time after they invented their mummy tale, they were visiting the First Egyptian Room of the British Museum and noticed the coffin lid of the Priestress of Amun. They concocted yet another story that the look of terror and anguish in the face depicted on the coffin lid indicated that the coffin's original occupant was a tormented soul, and her evil spirit was now loose in the world.

This is an excerpt from a source describing the situation when the mummy case was at the British Museum:

The staff at the museum reported hearing loud banging and crying noises coming from the coffin at night. Things were thrown around the exhibit room without explanation. Finally a watchman died. Then a photographer took a photo of the coffin. When he developed it, the image that appeared was so horrifying that the photographer killed himself.

Other sources depict this famous scenario after the photographer had killed 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.

The truth is that the Priestess Amun coffin lid (British Museum item No. 22542) is still sitting quietly in the British Museum's second Egyptian room, where it can be seen today.

Another twist to the tale presents us with this:

On the 12th April 1912 the Titanic was crossing the Atlantic on her way to New York on her maiden voyage. All seemed to be going well on the voyage. A group of eight people gathered in the first class smoking room to discuss the meaning of life.

One of the group was William T Stead, the English journalist and spiritualist. As the evening progressed Stead began to tell a ghost story which would open the flood gates to legends and myths surrounding the Titanic and her sinking for decades to follow.

He boasted that he was not superstitious as he pointed out that his story began before midnight on the 12th April and ended shortly after midnight. The story concerned the finding of an Egyptian Mummy and the translation of the inscription on the Mummy's case. The inscription warned that whoever should verbally recite the inscription would meet a very violent death.

The seven other members listened with sinister curiosity. Could Stead have been serious? Was there such a curse? Where was the Mummy - surely not onboard the ship they were travelling on?

Seven men out of the eight went down with the ship, including Stead himself although he had already had a premonition about his death some time before. The only survivor from the group was Fred Seward, who later when asked about the Mummy story told them that he would never dare retell it.

There was no Mummy on board the Titanic. The only Mummy in question was the Priestess of Amen-Ra. Her coffin lid did not leave its display in the British Museum and so was never onboard the Titanic.

However, the British Museum was never presented with the actual Mummy. Mr Taylor and the Egyptian Artefacts team think it is most probable that the Priestess' remains were left behind in Egypt. It is perhaps this fact that William Stead used to concoct his macabre tale.

Convoluted? Sure is. See what I mean?

After such an incident like the sinking of the Titanic occurs, what would usually happen is that the investigators will find out how the particular incident could have been avoided. In the case of the Titanic, it has to do with the iceberg impact:

It has been speculated that the ship could have been saved if she had rammed the iceberg head on. It is hypothesised that if Titanic had not altered her course at all and instead collided head first with the iceberg, the impact would have been taken by the naturally stronger bow of the hull and damage would only have affected the first or, at most, first two compartments. This would have disabled her severely, and possibly caused casualties among the passengers near the front of the ship, but would not likely have resulted in sinking since Titanic was designed to float with the first four compartments flooded. Instead, the glancing blow to the starboard side of the ship caused buckling in the hull plates along the first five compartments, more than the ship's designers had allowed for.


Originally, historians thought the iceberg had cut a gash into Titanic's hull. Since the part of the ship that the iceberg damaged is now buried, scientists used sonar to examine the area and discovered the iceberg had caused the hull to buckle, allowing water to enter Titanic between her steel plates.

Yes, there are many other details but then this post would just become way too much of a headache, both for me and for you. So yeah, there it is.

Science and the supernatural.


Anonymous said...

Quite an interesting post, but i was wondering where you got that second last reference from, about how the Titanic should have approached the iceberg? It isn't stated in your post, and i'm not hundred percent sure if i have the right article.

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