for National Geographic News
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An Egyptian mummy who died wearing a pained facial expression could be Prince Pentewere, suspected of plotting the murder of his father, Pharaoh Ramses III, according to a new analysis.
Recent examinations of the mummy, found in 1886 and now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, have helped archaeologists piece together a story of attempted murder, suicide, and conspiracy.
"Two forces were acting upon this mummy: one to get rid of him and the other to try to preserve him," said Bob Brier, an archaeologist at the University of Long Island in New York who examined the body this year.
Called both "Unknown Man E" and the "Screaming Mummy" because of his open jaw and agonized expression, the mummy has baffled researchers since it was first uncovered.
Several archaeologists have proposed theories about the mummy's cause of death, saying he might have been buried alive or poisoned, or that he was a murdered Hittite prince during the reign of Tutankhamen.
Archaeologists now agree, however, that mummies are commonly found with their jaws open as a result of their heads falling back after death.
The Screaming Mummy was unlikely to have been a Hittite prince because that man probably would not have been mummified, according to those examining the corpse.
"They're not going to mummify this guy if they murdered him," Brier said. "They're going to get rid of the body."
The theory about poison, on the other hand, has not been totally ruled out.
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