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In Egypt, Ancient Coffin's Contents Finally Revealed

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Noel, you've probably gotten a present before, and you had no idea what was going to be in that gift wrapping.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Yeah. Sure. Hasn't everybody?

GREENE: Of course. And this is sort of what happened in Alexandria, Egypt, yesterday. This crew of archaeologists was opening up an ancient coffin, and Kara Cooney - she's a professor of Egyptian art and architecture at UCLA - she said there was all this speculation about what exactly was going to be in there.

KARA COONEY: You know, it's going to be Alexander the Great, and instead, it was filled with sewage.

KING: Sewage. Egyptian news outlet AlWatan reported that when they pried open the lid, the smell of sewage was so bad that they had to leave the site. Once they did manage to get it open, they found three skeletons, which, since they were covered in sewage, were not in the best condition.

GREENE: Now, before the coffin was opened, some were wondering if there might be an ancient curse inside. And Cooney said, you know, it's natural to think about these things.

COONEY: When you're thinking of opening up a sarcophagus that ostensibly holds a dead human being, you should treat that dead human being with respect. You might also think that that dead human being would be angry at being disturbed if you believe that dead human being lives in some sort of afterlife.

KING: However, Egypt's secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities personally stuck his head in the coffin. He came out unscathed. No curse this time. Cooney also said that she thought the reality was bad enough.

COONEY: Sewage is always enough of a curse, really. So I'm going with that.

GREENE: Really? If only Brendan Fraser's character had gotten off that easy in the movie "The Mummy." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.