"I'm pinning all my hopes on the creature in the sarcophagus."
July 18, 2018 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Around the internet, people have been delighted and uneasy at the news that a gigantic, featureless, sealed black sarcophagus recovered in Alexandria, Egypt, will be opened by archaeologists. Despite stateside hopes, the sarcophagus is unlikely to contain any Elder Gods. It is also unlikely to contain Alexander the Great, even though he was said to have been reburied in a sealed coffin [pdf] full of honey in Alexandria. Since the only clue to the owner's identity is an alabaster bust with the face eaten away, it is no doubt a very ordinary person's burial with nothing amazing about it at all.
posted by Countess Elena (69 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
They open the mysterious black sarcophagus and inside it's David Bowie, alive and well. He then sets about repairing the timeline using the occult knowledge he won through trickery in the Underworld
Yes, I favorited this hard when I saw it a couple of days ago. It may be the best tweet ever.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:40 PM on July 18, 2018 [132 favorites]




Nice nyarlathotep tag, and strangely eponysterical.

An ArchaeologyMe question... how do archaeologists prevent oxidative damage to possible pigments, fabrics, or human tissues when opening coffins like this?
posted by runcifex at 6:42 PM on July 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


My favourite suggestion on this is that we make damn sure we finish all the side quests before we open it.
posted by ODiV at 6:44 PM on July 18, 2018 [92 favorites]


Of course, maybe it’s a Stargate ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:45 PM on July 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


... Daniel.
posted by clavdivs at 6:48 PM on July 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Hey, I know my Masks of Nyarlathotep. The Bent Pyramid is the one to watch out for.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:48 PM on July 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Michigan J. Frog
posted by otherchaz at 6:53 PM on July 18, 2018 [67 favorites]


i bet 2 floating river babies this is the work of a hipster who built his own sarcophagus and was buried alive in it because he couldn't stop bragging. probably ran his own sarcophagus and chariot store too
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:54 PM on July 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm calling it, now: the alabaster bust is totally a perfect representation of the being who was buried there.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:58 PM on July 18, 2018 [22 favorites]


an alabaster bust with the face eaten away

Oh sure, because of course that's not the least bit ominous or anything! IS THERE EVIL?? YOU DON'T KNOW!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:10 PM on July 18, 2018 [14 favorites]


I'm convinced that, confounding expectations, the sarcophagus will contain an Egyptian corpse
posted by Merus at 7:18 PM on July 18, 2018 [20 favorites]


This comes at a good time, since I'm coincidentally about 3/4 of the way through Roger Luckhurst's The Mummy's Curse: The True History of a Dark Fantasy. In addition to being a deep dive into the psychic cost and balancing act of imperialism, mental travel through Orientalist design, the illusion of progress, the occult underworld of Victorian London and its cross-pollination with the highest levels of power, and the general lunacy of Empire (featuring grave robbing, elephant tramplings, media revolutions, and desert massacres), it's an attempt to get at the cultural origins of the unease on display here.

A number of the tweets in the first link are clear echoes of the Victorian bonkers, of the struggle between the Enlightenment and the uncanny, and of the anxiety produced by Britain's fragile and doomed hegemony in the Middle East.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:36 PM on July 18, 2018 [22 favorites]


ryanshepard, I really enjoyed that book! Myself, I was interested by some of those tweets because they play with those tropes to express modern anxieties. People joke that they would openly welcome a buried cursed being to relieve themselves of the stresses of a world that is under open and acknowledged curses (climate change, political corruption) against which they are powerless. That’s some rough chuckles. I like it. I also just like the jokes about video games.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:54 PM on July 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


I just don’t have faith the black sarcophagus cn really pull through and finally just destroy us once and for all.
posted by The Whelk at 7:57 PM on July 18, 2018 [32 favorites]


I want them to open it and see a dozen live doves fly out of it, disappearing into the Egyptian sky with ease as if it was all perfectly normal.

Mostly because I have always wanted to see a whole team of archaeologists shit their pants at the same time.
posted by delfin at 8:10 PM on July 18, 2018 [22 favorites]


so much depends
upon

a black
sarcophagus

glazed with sand
crystals

beside the white
head thingy.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:20 PM on July 18, 2018 [53 favorites]


this is just to say

I have eaten
the face
that was on
the bust

and which
you were probably
saving
for archaeologists
posted by phooky at 8:35 PM on July 18, 2018 [117 favorites]


Given our recent experience with comic book villainy, the undead horde would be generally incompetent, have no sense of dignity, and rife with internal fighting - and we'd still lose to it.
posted by codacorolla at 8:43 PM on July 18, 2018 [11 favorites]


Come and see.
posted by The otter lady at 8:49 PM on July 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Sometimes, the internet’s alright.
posted by greermahoney at 8:58 PM on July 18, 2018


how do archaeologists prevent oxidative damage to possible pigments, fabrics, or human tissues when opening coffins like this?

Depends on what you find... I doubt the sarcophagus is air tight, so a dark, temperature and humidity controlled environment may be enough to keep things as stable as they were under 16 feet of sand. Other methods can be applied as needed, like freezing tissues, impregnating wood with polyethylene glycol, or chemically neutralizing active oxidation on metals.

Remember, though; archaeology is the only branch of anthropology in which we intentionally destroy our "informants".
posted by cosmologinaut at 9:00 PM on July 18, 2018 [9 favorites]


Probably just a note telling us to drink more ovaltine.
posted by ckape at 10:47 PM on July 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


"I'm pinning all my hopes on the creature in the sarcophagus."

I'm startin' with the myrmidon in the mirror
posted by thelonius at 10:51 PM on July 18, 2018 [20 favorites]


Jeez, at least give Angleton enough time to get a team of specialists and the Artist's Rifles on site before you open it.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:17 PM on July 18, 2018 [18 favorites]


my nam is scrab
and wen its nite
i open up
my box so tite

i look for fud
al'baster shines
is soft, tastes gud
on hed i dines
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:26 PM on July 18, 2018 [62 favorites]


There’s definitely a Goa'uld in there.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:02 AM on July 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


What does a mummy have in common with a girl choking on lemonade?

They both have a sour cough, I guess.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:36 AM on July 19, 2018 [37 favorites]


Yes, yes, all very amusing but can someone hurry up and open this thing so I can get out and check if I did leave the gas on.

Thank you
posted by fallingbadgers at 2:19 AM on July 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Quick, what year is it? Who's the Pharaoh?
posted by arcticseal at 2:58 AM on July 19, 2018 [23 favorites]


/me: Sticks fingers in ears, yells "go away, 2018, you're drunk (and please to stop plagiarizing my next novel before I write it)".
posted by cstross at 3:43 AM on July 19, 2018 [25 favorites]


due to a mixup at the office, that's where we moved that one hippys body after we crucified him. sorry for the inconvenience!
posted by Poldo at 3:49 AM on July 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Already I see signs of the fabric of reality straining - the timeline is looping in on itself.
posted by each day we work at 4:04 AM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


It’s going to be full of a million clowns, isn’t it? Or spiders. Or spider-clowns.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:31 AM on July 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


This place is cursed!
posted by SPrintF at 4:40 AM on July 19, 2018




We bury the f#<}er in a sarcophagus that took over a hundred strong backs to haul and plant in the rock. We leave a bust of the faceless bastard. We don't mark it and there are no grave goods. Then you morons dig it up with hopes that it will help put you out of your misery?

The future is dumb...
posted by Ignorantsavage at 7:01 AM on July 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


Godspeed You Black Sarcophagus
posted by GuyZero at 8:34 AM on July 19, 2018 [17 favorites]


The sarcophagus is open! And there are three bodies in it. They aren't what you'd call mummies anymore. A water leak caused them to decompose, and in any case Egyptian embalmers had lost the knack of actual preservation by the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, preferring to concentrate on elaborately woven, plastered and painted decorations that encased the body completely.

The bodies don't seem to have grave goods. I wondered if they were cached together in a reburial long after death. Sharing a coffin was not considered best practices, but it did happen on occasion, usually with a mother and child. These appear to be men, though.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:58 AM on July 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


[erratum: it doesn't say that there aren't grave goods, just no royal ones]
posted by Countess Elena at 8:59 AM on July 19, 2018


Why is no one wearing masks? I would expect at least a little concern about bio hazards... or... someone educated educate me?
posted by slipthought at 9:35 AM on July 19, 2018


Egyptian embalmers had lost the knack of actual preservation

Asking the more obvious question - what about just running out/low of the chemical used VS the implied lost technology in 'lost the knack'?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:49 AM on July 19, 2018


Egypt had some 30 dynasties across nearly four millennia—quite often with chaotic interregnum periods that lasted centuries. There were plenty of opportunities for the knowledge to be lost.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:02 AM on July 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


so it's three randos and some sewer water. gotta hand it to 2018 for keeping the black sarcophagus totally on brand
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:07 AM on July 19, 2018 [54 favorites]


Where's Geraldo Rivera when you need him?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:09 AM on July 19, 2018


It's actually just one rando, plus the rando's two clones.

Q: Why was the inhabitant of the black sarcophagus so anxious?
A: He was beside himself for 1000 years.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:26 AM on July 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


"The sarcophagus has been opened, but we have not been hit by a curse," said Waziri, dismissing claims made by some UK media outlets about "possible curse" could be cast on the world in case the tomb was opened.

Says a dude who clearly does not know anything about how curses work. You'd think a "Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities" would know better!
posted by mstokes650 at 10:36 AM on July 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


The curse was retroactive. Am I the only one who still remembers when Ellen DeGeneres was elected the 45th President? The timeline is almost completely corrupted already. Don't know how much longer I can hold out...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:56 AM on July 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


….never mind.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:57 AM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Edit: Whoops, nothing to see here.
posted by christopherious at 11:07 AM on July 19, 2018


I mean, if this wasn't 2018, I'd put this down to dry humor, but here we are and the 14:39 update seems like exceptional hubris:
He further pointed out that no evidence such as silver or gold metallic masks, small statues, amulets or inscriptions were found to prove that the mummies belong to a royal family.

In this regard, he denied the rumors spread by some international newspapers that opening the sarcophagus would unleash the curse that would bring disaster to the world.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:28 AM on July 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Here's a picture of the inside of the sarcophagus that you can practically smell. I like that someone is poking the coffin liquor with a plastic mop handle. They do have masks, though. They might even have some gold -- something is glinting in there.

... what about just running out/low of the chemical used VS the implied lost technology in 'lost the knack'?

That's a good question. I don't know that there was a serious shortage of natron salt, which was the key ingredient, at that time, although I could be wrong. But they weren't careless; they were just concentrating elsewhere. In the Ptolemaic and Roman Period, the exterior of the mummy itself became a work of art, often an exquisite one. The wonderful Fayum portraits were mounted on mummies during the Roman period. It's theorized that some mummies with flat foot boards and with signs of wear actually stood exposed, possibly even in a family home, where they would receive the ancestor worship that Egyptians of an earlier period performed at shrines.

(I wrote my undergrad thesis on the blurring of the lines between body and art on the mummies of this period. It's probably six kinds of wrong by now, but the subject still sets off my WELL ACTUALLY alarm.)
posted by Countess Elena at 12:37 PM on July 19, 2018 [19 favorites]


"Could it contain the remains of ancient Greek leader Alexander the Great, or (less appealingly) a deadly curse?"

Nay. Naught but "an unbearable stench."


Could we have a Great Leader, or at least an only Slightly Corrupt Leader?

Nay. Naught but an unbearable stench.
posted by slipthought at 1:31 PM on July 19, 2018


How do we know the three bodies aren't an accursed lich-king and the two guys originally sent in there to kill it?

*moans*

IM-HO-TEP
IM-HO-TEP
IM-HO-TEP

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:34 PM on July 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


The spookiest thing is there was only one body in there when we closed it up.

I've said too much.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:29 PM on July 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I hope they seal off that liquid and ward it properly. Otherwise, you get shoggoths or even worse, another remake of The Thing.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


You know what would be an awesome remake of The Thing? A sneak attack. Make a movie that's supposed to be about something else entirely, then 2/3rds of the way through it, suddenly BOW!!! HOLY CRAP! IT'S THE THING!

For best results, this movie should disguise itself as yet another remake of The Fantastic 4. In the crucial scene, the superheroes are visiting the set of a movie that Johnny Storm is working on as a stunt man. The movie is, of course, yet another remake of The Adams Family. This sets up a cute moment when Ben Grimm meets Thing T. Thing. Ben snarls at Thing one time too many and then suddenly BOW!!! HOLY CRAP! THING IS REALLY THE THING! IT REACHES AN IMPOSSIBLY LONG ARM OUT OF THE BOX AND BEN GRIMM IS LOST!

In the end, all of LA is basically The Thing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:14 PM on July 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


Nasty skaven spoiled the Khemri’s return to glory.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 6:14 PM on July 19, 2018


Where's Geraldo Rivera when you need him?

Taking orders from Moscow, apparently.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:48 PM on July 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


You know, I wouldn't be thinking anything of this curse, if I hadn't woken up this morning shuffled down the stairs with my entire family and tried to capture and stone to death that dashing archaeologist...
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:03 AM on July 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


My favourite suggestion on this is that we make damn sure we finish all the side quests before we open it.

Just to find out the real skeletons were inside each of us all along.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:02 PM on July 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Eeww gross. It's basically tupperware forgotten in the dark reaches of the fridge that has turned into... Well you know, it's turned into the stuff that makes you put the container in its own bag and tie it up and then put it in another bag just in case anything somehow leaks and immediately take it to the dumpster hoping it doesn't somehow pop open and you have to smell. It.
posted by sio42 at 4:09 AM on July 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


This isn't a remake of, The Thing. It is Prince of Darkness. The future will let us know that quite soon.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 4:34 PM on July 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Because I would not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The sarcophagus held but just ourselves,
And three guys and some pee...
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 9:16 PM on July 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


I hope they open it and it's a scale diorama of a bunch of archaeologists standing around a just-opened black sarcophagus and inside that there's a smaller scale diorama of a bunch of archaeologists standing around a just-opened black sarcophagus and inside that there's an even smaller scale diorama of a bunch of archaeologists standing around a just-opened black sarcophagus and inside that there's just a dead cockroach and a ghost somewhere says "lol".
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:51 PM on July 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


In other words, a matryoshka doel?
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:51 AM on July 23, 2018


Nobody tell Brendan Fraser — Ancient Egyptians had been making mummies longer than anyone thought
The Egyptians started embalming the dead before Egypt was even a unified kingdom.
Ancient Egyptians started embalming their dead about 1,500 years earlier than archaeologists previously realized, according to chemical analysis of the funerary wrappings of a young man who died in Upper Egypt around 3600 BCE. University of York archaeologist Stephen Buckley and his colleagues identified embalming compounds in organic residues from the mummy’s linen wrappings. They also examined the microscopic structure of the wrappings’ fibers, and radiocarbon-dated the mummy to between 3700 and 3500 BCE.

That’s about 500 years before Egypt was even a unified country. It took until 3100 BCE for an Upper (southern) Egyptian ruler named Narmer to conquer Lower (northern) Egypt, merging the two into a single kingdom.
posted by XMLicious at 8:29 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


World's Oldest Cheese, Found in Ancient Tomb, Was Also Very Dangerous
Humans have been producing and consuming cheese for a very long time, as the recent discovery of 3,200-year-old cheese in an ancient Egyptian tomb attests. Delicious though this cheese may have been, it was also a potential source of disease.

New research published this week in the science journal Analytical Chemistry describes what is “probably the most ancient archeological solid residue of cheese ever found to date,” in the words of the study’s authors. Dating back to the 13th century BC, the “solidified whitish mass,” was discovered in a jar, and despite 30 centuries of exposure to harsh desert conditions, the compound retained enough of its original chemical content for scientists to study its cheesy origins. In addition to determining the kind of animal milk used to manufacture the cheese, the researchers also detected traces of a dangerous bacteria that still plagues us to this very day.

...

As for how the cheese tasted, it would have had a similar consistency to chevre, but with a “really, really, acidy” bite, Paul Kindstedt, a professor at the University of Vermont, told the New York Times, adding that, it “would be high in moisture; it would be spreadable.”
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:24 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


For a moment I was impressed with myself for correctly guessing that the disease was brucellosis, but then I realized that it and listeria are the only two cheese-communicable diseases I know of, so I may have had something like a 50/50 chance.
posted by XMLicious at 11:05 PM on August 17, 2018


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