The Egyptian 'Unlucky Mummy' that many believed was responsible for Titanic sinking

A total of 1,500 passengers lost their lives after the vessel struck an iceberg a little before midnight, but there was one survivor who claimed that the great tragedy was not an accident at all


                            The Egyptian 'Unlucky Mummy' that many believed was responsible for Titanic sinking

The RMS Titanic is known all over the world for two reasons: one that it was the largest luxury cruise liner to take to the seas in its time, and two, for crashing into an iceberg, splitting in half, and then sinking to its watery grave. All this took place 107 years before on April 15 when it set out for its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, USA. There were approximately 2,200 passengers aboard the ship which was captained by Edward Smith.

A total of 1,500 passengers lost their lives after the vessel struck an iceberg a little before midnight but there is one survivor who has claimed that the great tragedy was not an accident at all. There are some very peculiar things that are said to happen around a particular ancient Egyptian artifact called the "Unlucky Mummy", ever since it was taken from its home in Egypt to Europe in the 19th Century. 

RMS Titanic sea trials April 2, 1912 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Some of the weird stories that surround the artifact are definitely works of fiction but there are some stories which were allegedly verified by a journalist in the early 20th Century. The Unlucky Mummy is a painted wooden coffin lid that is believed to date back to the 22nd Dynasty around 943 BC.

The journalist in question, Bertram Fletcher Robinson, allegedly spent many months investigating and verifying many tragedies that were related to the artifact at the time. Robinson suddenly died, however, before he could complete his work. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, believed that it was the curse of the mummy that killed Robinson. This was also believed by some of the journalists' friends. 

Both Doyle's comments on Robinson's death as well as Robinson's own research were published in Pearson's Magazine and the Daily Express, which were both under the same owner. Robinson had started his investigation of the mummy with hopes that he would be able to write a column for the Daily Express so that he could dismiss all the legends surrounding it. He reportedly found that the legends were true.

The cover of 1909 Pearson's Magazine featuring the story of the Unlucky Mummy (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Speaking of Robinson's death, Doyle said: "It was caused by Egyptian 'elementals' guarding a female mummy because Mr. Robinson had begun an investigation of the stories of the mummy’s malevolence. The immediate cause of death was typhoid fever, but that is the way in which the elementals guarding the mummy might act." 

The mummy’s case was described in the magazine: "It was seen to picture a woman’s face, of strange beauty, but of a cold malignity of expression. On the return journey of the party, one of the members was shot accidentally in the arm by his servant, through a gun exploding without visible cause. The arm had to be amputated. Another died in poverty within a year. A third was shot. The owner of the mummy case found, on reaching Cairo, that he had lost a large part of his fortune, and died soon afterward."

"When the case arrived in England, it was given by its owner, Mr. W., to a married sister living near London. At once, misfortune fell upon her household; large financial losses were suffered, bringing other troubles with them."

Technicians for the British Museum and staffs from the Hong Kong Museum of Art examine 'The Unlucky Mummy' Mummy-board C. 945BC which will be shown in the exhibition 'Treasures of the World's Cultures from the British Museum' at Hong Kong Museum of Art (Dustin Shum/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

One photographer who took a picture of the lid said that he captured the face of a living woman on the film roll but then mysteriously died shortly after that. The owners of the artifact then gave it to the British Museum where it was being kept while Robinson studied it.

As the frightening rumors of the mummy's curse spread like wildfire, more journalists started getting fascinated by it. This list included William Stead, who unfortunately lost his life aboard the RMS Titanic. Stead was a first-class passenger on board and had been personally invited by William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the USA. 

His work in investigative journalism was so well recognized at that point that he was reportedly considered as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize to be given out later that year. An anonymous testimony was made to the New York World newspaper after his death, however, by one of the survivors of the sinking ship.

A worker displays the 'Unlucky Mummy', from 945 BC, displayed by the British Museum during a press conference at Taiwan's National Palace Museum in Taipei 24 January 2007 (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

The person had claimed that Stead told passengers on board that he believed the Unlucky Mummy was also on the ship with them and was the one to blame for the Titanic sinking. It was later revealed that the artifact was found intact inside the British Museum, which suggested it had never left. There is also no record of the mummy being among the ship's cargo and none of the other passengers recalled seeing it during the evacuation.