Min, the ancient Egyptian god of phallus and fertility, might have brought some worldy advantages to his male worshippers, but offered little protection when it came to spiritual life.
Researchers at the Mummy Project-Fatebenefratelli hospital in Milan, Italy, established that one of Min's priests at Akhmim, Ankhpakhered, was not resting peacefully in his finely painted sarcophagus.
NEWS: Cancer Found in 2,000-Year-Old Mummy
"We discovered that the sarcophagus does not contain the mummy of the priest, but the remains of another man dating between 400 and 100 BC," Egyptologist Sabina Malgora said.
According to the researchers, the finding could point to a theft more than 2000 years ago. The relatives of the mysterious man may have stolen the beautiful sarcophagus, which dates to a period between the 22nd 23rd Dynasty (about 945-715 BC), to assure their loved one a proper burial and afterlife.
"It's just an hypothesis. However, this was a rather common practice, especially during periods of economical and political crisis, when the necropolis were left without much surveillance," Malgora, co-director of the Mummy Project with Luca Bernardo, director of Maternal and Child Unit Operations at the Fatebenefratelli hospital, told Discovery News.
Indeed, by the end of the 20th Dynasty, tomb robbery was such a serious problem at Thebes (the modern Luxor) that royal mummies and their relatives were secretly moved to a secure hidden tomb in Deir el-Bahri, now known as Theban Tomb (TT) 320.
Discovered near the end of the 19th century, the Deir el-Bahri cache revealed an extraordinary array of mummified remains belonging to more than 50 kings, queens and nobility.