Egypts Unexplained Files (2019) s01e05 Episode Script

Belief and Superstition

1 NARRATOR: Pyramids, temples, tombs-- these ancient wonders promise even greater secrets still to be found under the sands of Egypt.
Now cutting-edge science finally decodes the mysterious land of the pharaohs.
With modern technology, we are gaining an insight into the way the ancient egyptians lived and the manner at which they died.
NARRATOR: This time, crime and punishment ancient Egypt, can cutting-edge scans prove Ramesses III was murdered? This is an attempt to change the arc of egyptian history.
NARRATOR: Could new technology finally solve the mystery of the most famous statue of Queen Nefertiti? Is it genuine or is it a fake? NARRATOR: And can the FBI recover the first-ever ancient DNA from an egyptian mummy? It was the FBI that had the scientific tools to analyze this head.
NARRATOR: Ancient clues on earth, long-lost evidence reexamined, precious artifacts brought into the light of the 21st century.
These are "Egypt's unexplained files.
" -- Captions by vitac -- captions paid for by discovery communications FBI agents believe they can solve a 4,000-year-old cold case by extracting DNA from an ancient egyptian mummy for the first time ever.
Nobody ever got DNA from egyptian samples, so I didn't think it was gonna work.
NARRATOR: It could reveal what had eluded researchers for 100 years-- the person's identity.
BERMAN: People naturally want to know whose it was.
We have a mystery.
NARRATOR: The Boston museum of fine art, 2005.
Curators reexamine a strange artifact kept in their vaults-- a mummified head missing its body.
They've never known its identity, despite decades of research.
They believe now is the time to find an answer.
And we thought that with advances in technology, we might be able to get more information about the mummy's head.
So, we took the head to the Massachusetts general hospital, and we did very advanced and detailed CT scans.
NARRATOR: From the 2005 CT scan, scientists create a 3-D model of the skull.
It may determine whether the person was a male or female.
But when they examine the model, crucial evidence is missing.
BERMAN: We have 3-D models that were printed out.
If you look at the jaw areas, you can see what had been removed.
These are precisely the bones that would be the most telling in determining whether the skull was male or female.
NARRATOR: It is a setback for the scientists.
They now reexamine the discovery of the tomb, searching for missed evidence.
BERMAN: The head was found in 1915 while the museum was excavating tombs in the cemetery of Deir El-Bersha, which is about 175 miles south of Cairo.
NARRATOR: The burial place has been ransacked by looters.
BERMAN: They broke in through the head-ends of the coffin and yanked the mummy out.
It was in great disarray.
COONEY: Strangely, the looters left one of the heads of the inhabitants severed from its body on top of the coffin.
NARRATOR: Identifying the head from the contents found in the tomb was impossible.
Since none of them were in the coffins, we didn't know who they were.
NARRATOR: So archaeologists examine the coffins themselves, hoping for a clue to whom they belong.
They discovered inscriptions that suggest two possibilities.
The coffins are copiously inscribed with inscriptions that contain their name and titles-- the governor Djehutynakht and of his wife whose name was also Djehutynakht.
NARRATOR: The inscriptions show the couple are important people around 2,000 b.
C.
E.
, but the mystery of the head remains.
No one knew whether it belonged to Djehutynakht the governor or to his wife.
Is it him or is it her? NARRATOR: To solve the question, museum curators seek outside expertise.
In 2016, the world's leading crime fighters come to the rescue.
In this particular case, it was the FBI that had the scientific tools to analyze this head.
NARRATOR: The mummy's head is assigned to two of the FBI's most experienced investigators-- Jodi Irwin, a research biologist and Odile Loreille, a specialist in ancient DNA.
LOREILLE: The museum wanted to know whether the head of the mummy belonged to governor Djehutynakht or to his wife.
NARRATOR: For the first time ever, the FBI uses a DNA sequencing technique new to forensics.
We had a really difficult situation, a situation that we wouldn't have been able to solve with all of our currently- implemented technologies.
NARRATOR: The new technology is called next-generation sequencing.
It can examine the tiniest of samples.
So, for ancient DNA where, you know, you don't have a lot of DNA to start with.
These are instruments that allow you to copy and sequence DNA that are very small and in very high throughput, so you have millions and millions of sequences.
NARRATOR: But first, the FBI team must find ancient DNA in the skull, a nearly impossible task.
They wouldn't normally have to work with 4,000-year-old DNA, but often they are faced with challenging situations.
NARRATOR: Over the course of four millennia, time, along with the heat of the desert climate, breaks down the DNA in the head.
But geneticists potentially face a far bigger issue-- contamination.
LOREILLE: The mummy has been touched by multiple people-- the looters, obviously, the archaeologists, and then probably some curators at the museum in Boston, so we were very concerned about contamination.
NARRATOR: To extract uncontaminated DNA, the FBI team need an untouched sample, a daunting task after 4,000 years.
LOREILLE: What we did is we got a sample from inside a tooth by going through the neck so that we knew for sure that it had never been touched.
BERMAN: The removal of the molar was done as delicately as it would be if you were operating on a living person.
NARRATOR: The tooth could yield a viable DNA sample, but the scientists know the odds are against them.
LOREILLE: I was really skeptical.
When I started, I thought there might be a 5% chance it would work at best.
NARRATOR: Extracting useful DNA from the tooth is a delicate and painstaking process.
LOREILLE: We sanded the surface to remove contamination, and then we drilled through the tooth to remove powder.
Once you have the powder, you extract the DNA, you put it in solution, and that's the DNA extract.
NARRATOR: For the first time ever, the FBI uses the very-latest sequencing technology to process a mummy's ancient DNA.
The results show up as a huge data set of chemical sequences.
Once you've done that, you see how many sequences you have that match chromosome 1, how many chromosome 2, 3, 4, 5, "x" and "y.
" NARRATOR: Odile is hunting for the "y" chromosome because "y" chromosomes are only present in male DNA.
If they succeed, it may be the first ancient DNA extraction from an egyptian mummy in history.
Nobody ever got DNA from egyptian samples, so I didn't think it was gonna work.
NARRATOR: When the FBI team study their results, they discover something long though unattainable-- ancient DNA.
They can now solve the mystery of the severed head.
IRWIN: The DNA results showed that the mummy's tooth, and therefore the mummy, is from the governor Djehutynakht and not his wife.
Yeah, it was boy.
[LAUGHS.]
BERMAN: Although I'm very happy that we know that it is the governor and not his wife, I was kind of hoping that it was her.
NARRATOR: After 4,000 years, an ancient mummy has his identity restored thanks to the world-class expertise of the FBI.
But what is more, they make a scientific breakthrough in the field of ancient DNA that will undoubtedly lead to further discoveries in the future.
The mysterious Nefertiti.
Her iconic bust is a priceless treasure.
FLETCHER: The bust of Nefertiti has long been the crowning glory of egyptian antiquities.
It's a superb work of art.
NARRATOR: But some experts believe this beautiful face could be a forgery.
You would never in the ancient world find an ancient statue where they'd finished off the hard parts with plaster.
This has got to be one of the most controversial works of art in human history.
NARRATOR: Now state-of-the-art scanners are finally peering beneath the statue's veneer to answer one of Egypt's greatest questions.
Is it genuine or is it a fake? NARRATOR: She is the iconic face of Egypt's 18th dynasty-- Queen Nefertiti.
Nefertiti has gone down in history as the most beautiful egyptian Queen of all time.
NARRATOR: But for over 100 years, questions about this beauty loom large.
Some believe the life-size bust that created her image may not be real.
I think that the bust of Nefertiti is a masterpiece, and masterpieces are very hard to evaluate in terms of authenticity.
FLETCHER: A lot of duplicates were made because the bust was so very popular.
Every collection wanted a replica so visitors could come and admire the bust of Nefertiti even if it's not the original one.
And I think the proliferation of these reproduction busts has sort of led to a certain amount of uncertainty.
Which is the real one? We can't 100% say it's accurate.
NARRATOR: So scientists begin a 21st-century investigation to find the truth.
Experts are analyzing this bust using the latest scientific techniques to try and find out if it truly is ancient.
NARRATOR: They start by probing the statue with a 64-section CT scan, revealing for the first time the bust's inner structure.
HARRISON: CT scans reveal that it's a limestone core which has been covered with a layer of stucco which was then painted.
NARRATOR: For egyptologists, the discovery is deeply suspicious.
HARRISON: You would never, in the ancient world, find an ancient statue where they'd finished off the hard parts with plaster, so this rings some alarm bells.
I suppose the temptation of people to want to buy a little piece of amarna art for themselves could throw up the possibility that a bust like this may have been made by a forger.
But, of course, it just feeds into this whole mystery of "is the Nefertiti bust a fake or not?" NARRATOR: The strange materials found in the scan lead experts to reexamine the circumstances under which the bust is discovered in the early 20th century.
HARRISON: Ludwig borchardt claims to find the bust of Nefertiti in a workshop at El-Amarna under 50 centimeters of dirt and gravel.
NARRATOR: It all seems too perfect.
Investigators now look at borchardt's diary to find anything out of the ordinary.
Then something suspicious.
The exact circumstances surrounding the discovery of the bust have been called into question because it coincided, apparently, the visit of a prince to the excavations.
And it's been suggested maybe that borchardt wanted to impress his royal visitor with this amazing new find.
NARRATOR: In the early 20th century, there is huge desire to impress europe's still-powerful royal families.
A find showing the beautiful Nefertiti would take their breath away.
The prince marvels at the discoveries, but one of the workmen disappears for a few moments.
The workman comes back holding this bust of Nefertiti.
The royals are wowed by its beauty.
FLETCHER: In some people's minds, it's a question of "was this thing planted to make the archaeology seem even more exciting?" NARRATOR: The visit raised initial suspicions about the bust's authenticity, but in the decades that followed, experts have also studied the characteristics of the statue.
One detail raised questions.
HARRISON: The fact that the bust only has one eye does raise some red flags.
Modern forgery experts argue that it would be easy to sort one ancient eye in the construction of a piece like this, but finding a pair would be almost impossible.
NARRATOR: But not all experts agree with the theory that Nefertiti's one eye proves it's fake.
This is to fundamentally misunderstand how the ancient egyptians produced portraits with inlaid eyes.
And so frequently, these eyes fall out all the time, so whether the eye is there or not is absolutely no reason to question the authenticity of this superb work of art.
NARRATOR: As researchers consider further the idea that the statue is a forgery, they start to notice other irregular elements in the bust.
FLETCHER: There is selective damage on the bust.
You know, the missing head of the uraeus snake, damage to the ear and so forth.
HARRISON: We're told that the bust was found on it's face under the ground in the workshop, and yet, there's no damage to the nose or the chin, which is what you'd expect if it had fallen off of a shelf and lost the cobra.
The damage on the ear seems to be quite selective as if it had been dropped on its right and then left side.
The face is largely immaculate.
It's almost as if someone wants that most important feature to be preserved.
NARRATOR: The face of Nefertiti is so perfect, when brought to Germany, it is revered by their powerful new dictator.
Hitler greatly admired the bust of Nefertiti.
To him, it represented the ideal aryan woman.
FLETCHER: Adolf hitler apparently takes the bust of Nefertiti into his personal collection.
NARRATOR: After the war, the bust ends up in Berlin's neues museum, it's most-prized treasure.
In 2009, the museum curators continue their exhaustive examinations of the statue, determined to solve the mystery.
The museum decides they want to put this argument to rest.
They want to determine is this bust actually made of ancient materials.
NARRATOR: For this, scientists carry out a chemical analysis of the materials using cutting-edge XRF testing.
XRF stands for x-ray florescence.
Essentially, you aim lasers at the bust of Nefertiti, and then the elements that leave from the laser are monitored, and you can find out if there are any, say, modern pigments.
NARRATOR: The results will show whether the pigments are made from 3,000-year-old components or cheap 20th-century counterfeits.
When the data comes in, the scientists are amazed.
FLETCHER: The pigments used, the paints used exactly conform to the kind of pigments that 18th-dynasty artists were using in Egypt at that time.
They are, in fact, ancient pigments.
NARRATOR: The results lead some to make a final conclusion on Nefertiti's bust.
I think it's absolutely clear that this bust is genuine.
NARRATOR: Others are not yet convinced.
The fact is, there's strong evidence on both sides that indicate that it could be authentic and it could be a forgery.
FLETCHER: If it's a fake, then the forger must be a genius, being able to replicate exactly the known recipes for ancient-egyptian pigments.
NARRATOR: The final answer to this ancient mystery may lie in the analysis of other materials used in creating the bust, a task scientists will no doubt tackle in the future.
Eventually, when we're able to data limestone and plaster, then we'll be able to tell for sure.
NARRATOR: Priceless ancient artifact or 20th-century fake? Experts are getting closer and closer to a definitive answer on the enduring image of the most beautiful Queen in ancient Egypt.
A pharaoh whose death is one of Egypt's strangest mysteries.
DARNELL: The ultimate fate of pharaoh Ramesses III has long puzzled egyptologists.
Up to now, we don't know how Ramesses III died.
NARRATOR: Now scientists, using the latest high-resolution scanners, believe they can prove he's murdered.
DARNELL: 21st-century technology may finally enable us to solve this cold case.
NARRATOR: He was the last truly great monarch of the 20th dynasty, the dominant pharaoh Ramesses III.
He seems to have been a very powerful and successful pharaoh.
NARRATOR: But despite perceptions, some experts suggest the King has troubles at home.
ENMARCH: Towards the end of his reign, there does appear to have been some problems with law and order, so there may have been gathering storm clouds towards the end of his reign.
NARRATOR: These stormy last years become the basis for a long-held theory-- Ramesses III is the target of an assassination plot.
DARNELL: The assassination of Ramesses III and the attempt to put someone other than his designated successor on the throne is definitely a coup d'etat.
NARRATOR: But there is a problem with the theory-- no one's ever been able to prove that his death was murder.
Now scientists think cutting-edge technology could reveal new information in a key piece of evidence-- Ramesses' body.
DARNELL: The mummy of Ramesses III is labeled.
It was re-wrapped and reburied following the end of the new kingdom, so we know that it's his body.
NARRATOR: The pharaoh's corpse now lies in the egyptian museum in Cairo.
When scientists carry out an initial examination in 2012, they find no obvious causes of death.
There's no evidence of any kind of diseases or trauma or any indication why he could have died.
NARRATOR: But on closer scrutiny, there is an obvious clue.
While most of the bandages on the body were taken off during antiquity, in one sport, the bandages have been left intact.
ZINK: Most interestingly, they have a thick layer of bandages just around the neck, and this couldn't have been removed in the earlier attempts, so it remains there forever.
NARRATOR: The bandages appear intact from the time of the burial, suggesting they could be hiding something.
Unlike other postmortem examinations that dissect the body, the scientists decide not to remove the bandages.
Instead, they use a 21st-century method of investigation.
In recent times, it's been possible to examine mummies in more detail using CT scans.
ZINK: We are allowed to make new CT scans of the mummy to look, let's say, inside the body, which we cannot see from outside.
NARRATOR: They scan Ramesses III for the first time in history, creating a 3-D image of the 3,000-year-old corpse.
When the scientists study the scans of the neck, they're horrified.
It became clear that there is a very deep gash that runs across his throat.
Everything's cut-- the muscles, the skin, and even the arteries.
ENMARCH: So, we're talking here about a really deep cut, you know, several inches deep.
It actually cuts back to the vertebra of the back of the neck, so a really deep gash to the neck.
NARRATOR: A wound of this type can mean only one thing-- murder.
It would have been very rapidly fatal.
ZINK: There's no chance to survive such a cut.
It's really a typical deadly cut wound of his neck.
NARRATOR: But there is even more.
The scientists find evidence that suggest the wound is definitely inflicted while Ramesses is still alive.
ZINK: Inside the wound, there's a little amulet.
DARNELL: And in the CT scan, you could see it's the shape of an udjat eye, of the eye of horus, and that is a healing amulet.
ZINK: This is an amulet the ancient embalmer puts in to heal something, to repair something.
So it's as if to make up for the fact that he died in such a violent and traumatic way, that they're adding that amulet to almost undo the damage that was done.
NARRATOR: It is enough evidence for some egyptologists to make a final conclusion about the fate of Ramesses III.
DARNELL: The CT scans of the mummy of Ramesses III indicate that he was the victim of a vicious assassination.
ENMARCH: The cause of the death of Ramesses III has mystified egyptologists for generations, but new scientific techniques have revealed a potentially brutal demise.
NARRATOR: Many believe this proves the longstanding theory, turning Ramesses death into a case of murder three millennia after it is committed.
Cutting-edge science exposes the possible murder of pharaoh Ramesses III.
DARNELL: Up until the CT scan and the investigation of the mummy of Ramesses III, we had no confirmation that the assassination attempt actually succeeded.
NARRATOR: With an assassination case now open, experts think they may be able to pinpoint who helped carry out the grisly killing using the newest DNA analysis.
DARNELL: There were many guesses about who he might be, but we had to wait until DNA evidence was available and testing was available.
NARRATOR: The hunt is now on to solve the 3,000-year-old murder case.
NARRATOR: Egyptologists want to know who may have plotted against Ramesses III.
To start, they return to the tomb where the 20th-dynasty pharaoh was found along with other family members and royals from the time.
Could someone else buried there be implicated in his murder? DARNELL: The tomb at Deir El-Bahari containing most of the mummies of the rulers of the new kingdom is discovered in the 1880s.
And one of the mummies is very unusual.
The so-called "screaming mummy.
" ZINK: And this mummy is unique because it has his mouth wide open.
It looks like it's really screaming.
DARNELL: The physical evidence of the screaming mummy indicates that he died a violent death.
NARRATOR: For decades, the screaming mummy is an enigma, but in 2012, scientists perform an autopsy on the horrifying corpse.
It reveals something even more sinister.
It is not in a nice sarcophagus with its name written on it, and the mummy has not been mummified.
It is simply a naturally dried-out corpse.
DARNELL: We have every indication that he was intentionally not embalmed properly.
His internal organs were left in his body, he was buried in ritually-impure goat skin.
NARRATOR: It appears to some that this is done deliberately.
I mean, it seems that the priest, the embalmers who enacted this bizarre version of the mummification ritual took care to not give him a proper burial.
ENMARCH: Some egyptologists speculate that this person may have been cursed in his burial in some way.
NARRATOR: The autopsy also shows chilling details of the screaming mummy's death.
ZINK: From the outer side around his neck, there were some wrinkles.
It looks really like there was a rope around his neck and maybe he died of suffocation.
NARRATOR: The evidence suggests the man is strangled or hanged.
It could be a punishment or a gruesome crime.
Egyptologists turn to ancient records for more information.
Reexamining an ancient papyrus found in the 19th century, they discover something incredible-- trial records describing a plot to assassinate Ramesses III.
The judicial papyrus of turin contains the testimony of the conspirators who took part in this conspiracy.
NARRATOR: When experts study the section naming the accused, they're even more intrigued.
On trial is one of the King's wives-- Queen Tiye.
Also mentioned is her son, Pentaweret.
It tells us their names, it tells us what they did as part of the conspiracy, who they interacted with, so they give us the names of their collaborators.
This is an attempt to change the arc of egyptian history.
NARRATOR: Some of the conspirators seem to have been swiftly sentenced.
ENMARCH: Lower-ranking conspirators are executed, often in very gruesome ways.
Some of them seem to have been impaled on spikes.
NARRATOR: But it appears the judge faces a dilemma with others.
DARNELL: Because several of the perpetrators in the assassination of Ramesses III are members of the royal family, how do you handle the death penalty? NARRATOR: Historians can find very little record of Queen Tiye's fate, but they uncover a chilling sentence for Pentaweret.
The pharaoh's son is found guilty and ordered to kill himself.
Pentaweret performed suicide, possibly by hanging himself.
NARRATOR: Experts now consider an extraordinary new theory-- the screaming mummy could be Pentaweret, Ramesses III's son, and possible conspirator to the pharaoh's murder.
To prove the theory, scientists turn to the field of genetics, hoping to confirm the screaming mummy's identity.
DARNELL: There were many guesses about who he might be, but we had to wait until DNA evidence was available and testing was available.
NARRATOR: Forensic anthropologist Dr.
Albert Zink leads the investigation.
We installed DNA laboratory in Cairo, close to the museum, to extract the DNA and then also to multiply the DNA and to get the genetic fingerprint of the mummy.
NARRATOR: Dr.
Zink and his team extract a sample from the bone of the screaming mummy, believing they have found ancient DNA.
When he compares the sequencing data of the screaming mummy with the DNA taken from the body of Ramesses III, he's stunned.
ZINK: What we see when we analyze the DNA of both mummies, that they indeed share 50% of the DNA.
So, it's highly likely, based on this genetic test, that they are indeed father and son.
NARRATOR: It is a shocking and unexpected result.
Based on this information, some egyptologists believe they can make a conclusion about the screaming mummy.
DARNELL: If we put all of this evidence together with the papyri, it makes the most sense that the screaming mummy is prince Pentaweret.
NARRATOR: It means the son of Ramesses III may have been instrumental in a plot to kill his own father, the 20th-dynasty pharaoh of Egypt, then he hanged for it.
It is a window into a dark egyptian drama only made possibly by 21st-century scientific breakthroughs.
Archaeologists in northern Egypt make a horrific discovery.
They come across four pits filled with the remains of 16 severed hands.
NARRATOR: It is a mystery egyptologists are determined to solve, answering a gruesome question.
For what sinister reason are these hands cut off? NARRATOR: 2012-- Avaris, about 65 miles northeast of Cairo.
Archaeologists dig at a royal palace in the ancient city.
They uncover something morbid-- 16 severed right hands.
This is a very strange and puzzling find in many ways.
The severing of hands does not seem to play in other areas of egyptian activity.
NARRATOR: Egyptologists are determined to make sense of the ghastly find.
They start by examining the judicial system in ancient Egypt, wondering if the hands could be part of some state-sanctioned punishment.
We have a lot of evidence of a system of crime and punishment existing in ancient Egypt from relatively early on.
The more serious crimes led to mutilation, and generally, the lopping off of one's nose or the cutting off of one's ear.
NARRATOR: Harsh treatment.
But as experts investigate this justice system further, they also discover how the ancients enforced this brutal rule of law.
NAUNTON: There was an entire class of people called the medjay who acted as a kind of police force for the egyptian states to enforce laws and to catch people who were breaking them.
NARRATOR: Ancient depictions reveal a system of crime and punishment where suspects are tried and sentenced.
NAUNTON: People were involved in the law courts and dealing with the laws and in meeting out punishments to people who broke them.
NARRATOR: But not only were the guilty punished, even innocent witnesses are subject to the brutalities of the law.
If you witnessed a crime and did not report it, you would be guilty.
If you see something, say something.
Don't be quiet.
NAUNTON: We know that torture is used from time to time as a means of interrogation, and we have the evidence that arms were twisted, various other techniques used to try and coax information out of people.
NARRATOR: Could these 16 severed hands be evidence of this ancient torture? Some experts are not convinced.
NAUNTON: The hands found at Avaris are severed.
This would be a bit severe if we're looking at torture.
This is something else, something different.
NARRATOR: Researchers must find another explanation.
They wonder if an answer could be found in the actions of the pharaohs.
They examine a painting in the famous tomb of King tut.
A savage detail catches their eye.
A relief of Tutankhamun actually shows that his enemies' hands are being skewered on spikes.
NARRATOR: It's an intriguing clue, so much so that investigators compare it with paintings from other royal tombs.
On the reliefs in the tombs of Ramesses II and III, we see piles of hands being collected, which are actually the right hands of all of their enemies.
NARRATOR: The evidence is mounting.
The severed hands appear connected to some sort of military action.
When experts study the records from ancient battles, they make a crucial discovery.
When we look at egyptian battle records, particularly from the 18th dynasty, we understand that it was common practice for the victorious egyptians to sever right hands of fallen slain enemy.
NARRATOR: But why cut off the hands of your fallen enemy? MCGINN: It's common practice for the pharaoh to pay his soldiers in plunder.
For the soldiers to get paid, they need to prove that they were brave in battle, and what better way to do it than to cut off the right hand of your enemy? NARRATOR: The severed hands appear to be physical proof of kills on the battlefield.
It allows egyptologists to make a final conclusion about the 16 hands.
Taking all the evidence together, it seems very likely that these hands in these pits in the royal palace are the evidence of what we see on the temple walls-- hands having been cut off foreign prisoners, brought to the palace as a symbol of Egypt's conquest over its enemies.
NARRATOR: The archaeological discovery of the severed hands is the first empirical evidence of this practice ever found in Egypt.
BIANCHI: We had textual and visual representations of severed hands, the Avaris find is the first time we have actual hands.
NARRATOR: It also confirms a system of payment for soldiers egyptologists thought might be true, but for which we now have undeniable proof.
An ancient papyri reveals one of the most infamous criminals in all of Egypt.
He seems to have been an all-around bad guy.
He had a rap sheet we should say.
NARRATOR: Egyptologists want to know if this man gets away with his crimes and whether he could be at the center of one of the earliest criminal cases of sexual misconduct.
NARRATOR: In the early 19th century, british collector henry salt arrived in Egypt on a mission to secure antiquities.
Among his purchases, an ancient papyri, thereafter called "the salt papyri.
" ROSE: When they dated it, they found that is was more than 4,000 years old.
NARRATOR: The scroll was originally discovered perfectly preserved at the site of Deir El medina, an ancient workers' village.
COONEY: It's absolutely amazing we have this documentation at all.
It's extraordinary, and the reason we do is because Deir El medina is a village in the middle of the desert, and the desert preserves.
The desert sands, it takes away all of the water, dries everything out to a perfect preservation.
NARRATOR: When researchers translate the ancient text, they make an astonishing discovery.
It tells the story of a shadowy character.
ROSE: It's the full account of a worker who had been working at Deir El medina.
His name was Paneb.
CLARK: We know that Paneb's operating around the time of Ramesses VI, and this is in the 20th dynasty.
NARRATOR: As they study the scroll further, experts find that Paneb is accused of countless misdemeanors.
He's accused of stealing crafted objects that people have made.
Paneb was just an all-around bad guy.
NARRATOR: The list of accusations become more and more serious.
It seems Paneb is a prime suspect in a string of robberies.
PAUL: According to the salt papyri, he's raided at least three tombs, but that's based on the recording that we have, and of course, someone with a rap sheet like Paneb likely looted many more.
Tomb robbery is one of the most serious crimes you can commit in ancient Egypt.
NARRATOR: The crimes take place in one of ancient Egypt's most sacred cemeteries-- the valley of the kings.
This vast royal burial ground is close to Paneb's home in Deir El medina.
Deir El medina was important because that's where all the workmen for the tombs of the valley of the kings lived.
NARRATOR: Experts conclude that Paneb is a craftsmen in the construction of the royal tombs, a job that offers unique access to restricted areas.
COONEY: The Deir El medina craftsmen knew the location of every royal tomb, that was their place of work.
They knew where Ramesses II was buried, they knew were thutmose III was buried.
CLARK: Paneb is gonna have intimate knowledge of the layout of all the tombs.
He's actually involved in digging them.
ROSE: Any tomb builder in ancient Egypt is a suspect for robbing these tombs out.
NARRATOR: Paneb has access to information only a handful of people have.
ROSE: It stands to reason that if Paneb had this kind of specialized information, then any other tomb builders would also have that kind of special information.
NARRATOR: From the records, experts reveal that Paneb begins to use his specialist knowledge to his own benefit.
He's decided to use that position of power for a life of crime.
NARRATOR: Now Paneb uses his intricate knowledge of the valley of the kings to his advantage.
CLARK: Paneb was accused of stealing from the tomb of seti II, but the one that would have got him, the worst condemnation was from stealing from Queen henutmire where he took a goose, which was a symbol of Amun and would have been extremely valuable.
NARRATOR: But his crime wave can't go on forever.
The salt papyri reveals Paneb's actions catch up with him, and his felonies go far beyond treasure-seeking.
From the records, Paneb's trial could be one of the earliest criminal cases of sexual misconduct in history.
COONEY: He's accused of stealing from a number of people's tombs, he's accused of stealing wives, so to speak, when he's accused of adultery, and he's also accused of rape and violence.
Paneb was just an all-around bad guy.
NARRATOR: In the end, Paneb's low moral standing comes back to haunt him.
The trial seems to have shown that he had many enemies, and he was taken down for it.
Justice in ancient Egypt is swift and severe.
Paneb was dealt with by given 20 lashes.
He was a notorious tomb raider and bad boy of the ancient world.
NARRATOR: The story of Paneb reminds us that crime and punishment in ancient Egypt follows the same patterns and outcomes as in the 21st century, and gives a window into ancient egyptian justice like never before.