This photo has been going around the internet with the claim that it shows the real Pharaoh Ramses II’s mummified remains.
It does not.
When I first saw this picture shared I was not immediately suspicious, it looks like a mummy and it reminded me of photos I had seen of Ramesses II, so there was no reason to doubt it.
But in the comments on social media there was some doubt about the authenticity so of course I had to go investigate.
It was a little tricky to find a good clear confirmed genuine photo of the mummy’s face, I needed to be completely sure that the photo I was looking at showed the real mummy at The Egyptian Museum in Cairo and most photos I found were taken at an angle or with light settings that made it difficult to compare details.
But when I tracked one down and compared the two, it became clear that they were similar but not exactly the same.
The mystery head was clearly meant to be Ramesses II, but it was not him, it was a replica.
But who made it, was it for a museum or exhibit, something someone made just for fun, a prop for a film?
I looked and looked but couldn’t quite track it down and I really wanted to because you need that information to convince people on the internet and a lot of people believed it was the real deal.
Bot once but three times someone spend a lot of time and effort trying to reconstruct what Ramesses II looked when still alive but based on the replica!
If you know who made these, please let me know.
Someone even made this animation;
There are pages full of angry arguments based on these reconstructions, fierce fights about how some think the end result isn’t historically accurate as it doesn’t fit what they think Ramesses II looked like, all because of a prop.
Of course a digital reconstruction made with a photo of the real mummy may have looked not that different, but if you’re trying to make something as accurate as possible, using a photo of a figurine and not realising it isn’t the real deal, isn’t a great start.
But I still did not know who made it!
So eventually I used the most powerful weapon in my arsenal; the people of the internet.
And within the hour the answer was found!
One of my followers called Monissa tracked the image down to a long defunct website by the name of Lubatti designs unlimited where the latex prop was once sold.
This was the evidence I needed to convince any doubters that it was not the real face of Ramesses II.
I managed to track the maker down and got in touch with him.
Erich Lubatti has been sculpting and making props and scary masks since the 1980s and does so to this day.
He made the Ramses prop in the late 1990s, it was life-sized and was indeed based on photos of the original mummy, which explains why it fooled so many people.
But he had no idea about all this controversy surrounding his work till I told him about it!
He considers it quite the compliment that people thought his prop was the real deal.
About 10-15 of them were ever sold, so it’s a rare object, which also explains why nobody recognised it for what it was, it’s a rare item!
Case closed… but wait, there’s more!
Something similar happened to Ramesses II’s dad!
I’m not kidding.
Photos of a replica of Seti I‘s mummy have been mistaken for the real thing on the internet for quite some time.
But this one was a lot easier to debunk as it’s a popular part of the much loved “National Geographic, Treasures of the Earth” exhibit at the amazing Children’s Museum in Indianapolis.
And they’re not trying to fool anyone, there’s a clear sign at Seti’s feet;
Here’s what the real Seti I mummy looks like;
And as if these poor dead souls haven’t had their rest disturbed enough, there is yet another bit of fake history surrounding Ramesses II!
The story goes that when he was send to France for special treatment to combat a fungus in 1976 French law demanded he was issued a passport;
Although they at least used a photo of the real mummy and not a replica, this is of course not the real passport.
For starters it doesn’t even look like an 1970s Egyptian passport and although barcodes were (just) a thing back then, they weren’t used in passports.
But, as it says in small print, this is just a mock-up made for the website heritagedaily.com used to illustrate an article.
Ramesses II probably didn’t even get a passport, there’s no law in France or Egypt that demands a dead person to require it and the whole confusion probably originated with the transport needing a lot of paperwork that an archaeologist described as “passeport” in an 1980s report.
Yes, she used quotation marks in that report, so she clearly didn’t mean a literal passport, but just a whole lot of fancy documentation.
It is therefore no surprise that there is no evidence whatsoever of this passport even existing.
So, one family, three bits of “fake history”.
Surely that is some sort of record.
Have the adventures of our dead father and son ended or will more stories surrounding them pop up?
Time will tell.
- Erich Lubatti page at Trick or Treat Studios
- Erich Lubatti on Instagram
- Catalogue général des antiquités égyptiennes du Musée du Caire, The Royal Mummies, by Sir Grafton Elliot Smith (1912)
- Children’s Museum in Indianapolis
- AFP Factual
- The Egyptian Museum in Cairo
- The Global Egyptian Museum
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I do not own the copyrights to these images, I only share them here for educational purposes to try and make sure the real story behind it becomes known and people will stop spreading false information.
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