Home / Robert Farley / Don’t. Open. The Box.

Don’t. Open. The Box.


This has disaster written all over it:

Archaeologists were surprised when they opened an excavated stone coffin only to find another coffin made of lead inside. The team said they’ve never seen anything like it.

The remains of King Richard III were lost for centuries beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, until archeologists discovered the site in Sept. 2012 and later confirmed the match. But other mysteries have been found, including a double coffin thought to have been sealed more than 100 years before Richard was buried.

Archaeologists returned to the Grey Friars monastery site in early July for more study. After several weeks of excavation, eight people lifted the lid off of a heavy coffin made of stone on July 23. They discovered that an inner coffin made of lead was sealed within the outer stone coffin.

The 7-foot-long stone coffin was thought to have been sealed in the 13th or 14th century. After its opening, the lead inner coffin was moved to the University of Leicester for researchers to analyze how to access it without damaging the remains inside.

A wide variety of end-of-the-world scenarios begin with a tableau just like this. Nothing good can come of opening a lead coffin that somebody saw fit to seal within a stone coffin. It’s the medieval equivalent of the Yucca Mountain. Stay away.

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  • Barry Freed

    “What’s that do?”

    • Hogan

      “I just wanted to see what would happen.”

      • lodown

        Did you hear a noise in the basement? I’m going to go investigate…alone.

        • Hogan

          “Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying ‘End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH’, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.”

          • catclub

            Tell people the moon is 240,000 miles away and they will take your word. Put up a wet paint sign by a park bench and they will touch the bench to check.

            • Dave

              Because the paint might have dried….

          • Shakezula

            Definetely Sir Terry.

        • drkrick

          Hang on, I need to put on a red shirt.

  • JMP

    Upon reading the title, did anyone else think “it’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s head!”, or was that just me?

  • Malaclypse

    Johnny Dahlquist deserves better than this.

  • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.

    I’m glad that i don’t live in Shellworld and that the coffin is too small. Also, fuck cancer!

    • mds

      Your cryptic insider references make me feel Iln. Also, fuck cancer!

      • Malaclypse

        I am sick and tired of you kids today and your insider jokes. Furthermore, it is my opinion that Carthage must be destroyed.

        • Very Little Gravitas Indeed

          Yeah? Well, you don’t have a lawn for us to get off of, because your farming guide sucks.

    • Shwell Thanksh
  • Breadbaker

    Inside, they will find the remains of Judge Crater and Jimmy Hoffa, 18-1/2 minutes of Richard Nixon on a tape and the Rose Law Firm billing records.

    • DrS

      And the fat liposuctioned from Gerardo Rivera’s midsection.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        didn’t that end up between his ears?

    • Cody

      You mean the Whitey tape isn’t in there?

  • Warren Terra

    I thought lead-sealed coffins weren’t unheard of for the wealthy of the era? Nor stone sarcophagi?

  • joe from Lowell

    Professor, I found something over -yaaarrrrgghhhhh!!!!

    • Keaaukane

      Let’s split up…

      • Allow me to put on the highest heels I own, grab a flashlight that I haven’t used in years and I will gladly check the owl-haunted woods.

        • Anonymous

          Those movies don’t have meaning for me because I always think…”So, where’s the handgun?”

          I know, I know…it takes all the fun out of it.

          • 1. I was holding it in one hand and the dodgy flashlight in the other. When the flashlight goes out I follow D Horror Flick Protocol and drop the gun in fright.

            2. The thing or things in question can’t be killed with conventional weapons. So I fire away gamely (and accurately to break stereotype for a moment). The thing stops to look at what should be a fatal gunshot wound and then CHOMP!

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              yeah, it’s like Anon hasn’t seen ANY movies.

            • Keaaukane

              And the horrified searchers find one high heel shoe, WITH THE FOOT STILL IN IT!!!!!!

  • Jon H

    Boy are they going to feel silly when they open the lead coffin and find a smaller stone coffin inside.

    (Actually, though, they’ve somehow peered into an opening in the lead coffin and seen the feet.)

    • Informant

      If you look closely at the pictures in the article, you’ll see that the lid of the lead coffin somehow caved in (or was melted through from the inside!), exposing the feet and lower legs of the decedent.

      • DocAmazing

        Medieval flatulence was no joke.

        • cpinva


      • Lee Rudolph

        Exposing somebody’s feet and legs, at least.

        Or somebodies’. (How many of each are there, anyway?)

  • anthrofred

    Well, that’s going to make x-rays a whole lot more complicated.

    And now I have an urge to watch through Buffy again.

    • Barry Freed

      Do it. You won’t regret it I assure you.

      • sharculese the ignoranus

        My little sister watches Buffy and Angel pretty much on a constant loop, making sure to switch back and forth in a way that maintains the chronology.

        Never was a fan but I admire her dedication.

        • Barry Freed

          I’ve done that for 7 or maybe as many as 11 rounds (I lost track). Hell, lately I’ve been making a regular approximately 40 minute drive every week and just last week I bought the soundtrack of “Once More, with Feeling” just for that.

          • anthrofred

            Soundtrack, pff, real fans* buy the score.

            * also, inveterate singing nerds.

            • sharculese the ignoranus
              • anthrofred

                *weeps in recognition*

              • Anonymous

                sharculese the ignoranus

                I’m glad you’re enjoying this. It came to me in a drug and alcohol stuper.

                One of my finer moments…

                • sharculese the ignoranus

                  One of my finer moments…

                  I know. That’s what makes it funny.

                • Anonymous

                  On the other hand, you’re posting under more than one name.

                  BIG SHAME!!

                • Anonymous

                  Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

                • sharculese the ignoranus

                  ahahahahahah yeah dude, you got me. whatever it takes to justify your gross hatecrush.

                • sharculese the ignoranus

                  Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

                  Okay, that was actually funny. I giggled.

      • anthrofred

        I can’t usually make it through the last two-three seasons. Once Whedon turned his attention to other projects and left Marti Noxon in charge of Buffy, the writing – and particularly the dialogue – went downhill in a hurry.

        Once More With Feeling being a bright spot, of course.

        • Barry Freed

          Season 5 with Glory rocked. And 6 had some really great ones (including of course, OMWF). Hell, even 7 had some great moments and payoffs (Xander with the eyepatch…)

          • sharculese the ignoranus

            When my parents were last getting a new dog I pushed for Glory if it was a girl golden retriever (after Glorfindel from the Silmarilion. I’m a different kind of nerd.), but my mom absolutely refused because she associated it with the bad taste season 5 left in her mouth.

            • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.

              Why not go directly for Glorfindel?

              • sharculese the ignoranus

                well, you want to preserve the air of respectability around the normals…

                • firefall

                  why? I thought that ship would have well and truly disappeared into the sunset

                • sharculese the ignoranus

                  I thought that ship would have well and truly disappeared into the sunset

                  I see what you did there.

                • anthrofred

                  I believe the term is “muggles”

            • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.

              Oh, and what kind of dog did they get?

            • Barry Freed

              Oh, I’m that kind of nerd too. I used to belong to the Mythopoeic Society when I was a kid and into my early teens. I read LOTR 17 times. I’ll sit in the corner and wear my nerd hat.

              • Ian

                Nerd helm.

                • anthrofred


                  No, no, I mean the Nerd Helm is +1.

                • Jordan

                  But, sadly, -1 Charisma.

                • Barry Freed

                  Awesome, people, simply awesome.

          • witless chum

            Yeah, I can’t imagine what people would want more than Season 5. Glory wasn’t the best big bad, but she was solid, especially compared to Adam, The First Evil and the Trio. Plus, you had the Dracula episode, two Xanders. A very good season, plus the heartbreaking ending. The show would have been much better-remembered if that had been the final shot. Season six still had some very good stuff and season seven had less, but still some. But sort of thematically, if the show had ended with Season five it would have made more sense.

    • ChrisTS

      Sooooooooooo, I’m just going to put this out there, once, and be done with it: I never watched BTVS. Did not.

      Shoot me. (But, then be ashamed.)

      • Ian

        It’s on netflix. Not too late.

      • zombie rotten mcdonald

        No Doctor Who, no Buffy? Next you’ll say you never saw Firefly.

        You’re gonna get banned from the Internarfles.

        • ChrisTS

          Did Firefly, so I guess I’m safe?

    • Hogan

      “Acathla the demon came forth to swallow the world. He was killed by a virtuous knight who pierced the demon’s heart before he could draw a breath to perform the act. Acathla turned to stone, as demons sometimes do, and was buried where neither man nor demon would want to look. Unless of course they’re putting up low-rent housing.”

  • Mike G

    Maybe Geraldo will finally find Al Capone’s money.
    Or Nazis will have their faces melt off when it opens. One or the other.

    • Tehanu

      Works for me either way. Hope Bob will follow up on this story once they find out what/who is inside it.

      • Mike Schilling

        If not him, Crosby Bing.

        • Uncle Tio

          nice one, centurion

  • Biscuits

    Oooo! I want them to open it! Very cool. Just don’t want to be there when they do.

  • Well it’s on land so at least it’s not Cthulhu.

  • Zombie rotten McDonald

    Soon to be a SyFy movie.

    • anthrofred

      Maybe a sharknado will rip the top off of the coffin, releasing the spirit within.

    • ChrisTS

      It sort of was. I think Cloris Leachman was in it… anyways, my spousal unit often wanders about saying “Do not open the box!”

      • zombie rotten mcdonald

        there was a MST3K episode that pretty much had this plot, too. “Being From Another Planet”, I think…

    • wengler

      It already was.

      Spoiler Alert: It was a Banshee’s head.

      • wengler

        Link to it.

        Like most of the Louisiana-based Syfy movies, it left something to be desired.

  • BigHank53

    George Washington was originally placed in a lead-lined coffin, though his body was just placed in the family crypt, and not buried.

    • Ian

      his body was just placed in the family crypt, and not buried.

      That’s got vampire written all over it. “Ate opponents brains and invented cocaine, he’s coming, he’s coming, he’s coming…”

      • Royko

        Could be a prequel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

        George Washington: Vampire!

        • Joseph Nobles

          Don’t ask to see his wooden teeth…

      • nedlum

        True story: legally, George Washington now and forever outranks all other members of the United States Army.

        If he came back from the dead in any form, he’d be in charge of the most powerful military in the world.

  • Ian

    It’s a puppy!

    Oh wait, that’s horrible.

  • “Now that we’ve opened the lead coffin, all we have to do is remove the wooden stake from the chest of this skeleton then accidentally drip some blood on it.”

    • anthrofred

      “Based on plant remains found in the coffin, we surmise that the deceased was a horticulturalist, while empty vials of holy water found nearby indicate a high degree of religiosity. The only logical conclusion is that the man buried in this tomb was a garlic-farming monk.”

      • A garlic farming monk with a severe dental deformity, poor thing.

  • RepubAnon

    Well, nobody said archeology isn’t exciting…

    Loophole In Curse Lets Archaeologist Off The Hook

    NEWS IN BRIEF • Science & Technology • Supernatural • ISSUE 48•19 • May 8, 2012

    CUZCO, PERU—Mystic spirits guarding Sacsayhuamán Archaeological Park acknowledged Tuesday that a loophole in a centuries-old hex had allowed archaeologist Brian Bauer to violate the site’s subterranean catacombs without being cursed.


  • The Pale Scot

    Don’t Mock The Box!

    • anthrofred

      Feel free to mock The Box, though, because that movie was friggin’ terrible.

      • The Pale Scot

        I understand that the D!**!t B*X story is way better than the movie, the makers of the movie couldn’t get the rights from the original tellers.

  • If you open the box, it’s no longer mint condition and all the other collectors will laugh at you.

  • Honestly, am I the only one who watched Ghostbusters II? Look at the timing: New royal baby, old mysterious royal coffin. QED people!

    Fine, laugh. When young George starts stomping around yelling “Let blood — Blood — BLOOD! — be your motto! Slit their gizzards!” You’ll wish you’d listened.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      aaah, he can stomp around all he wants, he’s only a figurehead monarch anyway

      • ChrisTS

        Also: rather diminutive, yes?

    • That would be ironic – the final revenge of the Yorkists.

    • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.

      Which will only end with the little tyke in the loony bin. Divine Right of Kings ain’t what it used to be.

  • Decrease Mather

    Someone notify Kevin Drum so he can examine the crime rate near the burial site.

    • Royko

      Well, there was a body with a bludgeoned skull found nearby.

  • ChrisTS

    Damn it: what was that .. 50’s/60’s? .. movie in which this line was repeated over and over again until the evil/dumb dame opened the box and unleashed some kind of atomic horror?

    • bob mcmanus

      Kiss Me Deadly, Aldrich 1955

      • DocAmazing

        With a magnificent homage running through Repo Man.

        • Barry Freed

          Yes, “Oh, you don’t want to look in there”

          • DocAmazing

            “It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.”

      • ChrisTS

        YES! Many thanks.

        Spousal unit frequently enters a room and shouts “Don’t look in the box!” Offspring look pained.

        • Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.

          Onesided embarrasment is the proper adult-child relation.

          • ChrisTS

            Yeah, we pretty much have that nailed.

        • My parents used their personal paraphrase of Corilianus: You banish me? I BANISH YOU! [point finger at door]

          I’m incapable of watching that play without giggling.

      • hamletta


        Gawd, I love that movie.

  • wjts

    When I was charged with cleaning out and packing up a disused university storeroom a while back, I found (among other things):

    1. Skeletal remains, fetal/neonate
    2. Skeletal remains, adult
    3. Skeletal remains, ape
    4. Cadavers, fetal
    5. Medical records, pediatric
    6. Artifacts, Carthaginian
    7. Embryological specimens, various stages

    I found these things right around the time I moved into a house with a dirt-floor subbasement and a series of crude crayon drawings on the wall of my bedroom. I assume the only reason I’m still alive is that the ghosts are all arguing amongst themselves about who should be allowed to kill me.

    • elm

      The ape ghost will win in the end. Just make sure, as it strangles the life out of you, to shout out, “Take your spectral paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” It won’t save you, but it’d be an awesome way to go.

      • wjts

        I have to admit, I’ve kinda wanted to go out like that ever since I saw Emmanuel Fremiet’s statue of an orangutan strangling a Borneo hunter in the Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy.

        • Mike Schilling

          He should never have called him a monkey.

          • Shirley Jones


          • Simone

            Obviously these archaeologists aren’t Head Wizards yet otherwise the lead coffin would already be open

        • Informant

          I hadn’t heard of Emmanuel Fremiet before, so I Googled him — the guy definitely seems to have had a fixation with beast-on-human violence. His oeuvre is like a late 19th Century version of When Animals Attack!

        • Jordan

          And … there is a new desktop background.

        • zombie rotten mcdonald

          That’s not strangling. That’s breathplay. Cheeky monkey.

        • kvenlander

          Wow. That thing is the worst offense against marble I’ve ever seen. Just on the basis of this, Gaia would be justified just wiping out humans and starting over with sea cucumbers.

      • Unemployed Ghost

        In this economy, that damn ape is always taking my job!

        Oof, gotta go. Someone just opened a box in England! It’s not -my- box per se, but I get a kick out of people thinking they’ve been cursed.

    • zombie rotten mcdonald

      I would watch that movie.

      • zombie rotten mcdonald

        IN fact, I think I have….

    • Fats Durston

      It’s as if Borges decided to write the “Celestial Emporium of Malevolent Knowledge” instead, though perhaps needs more embalming.

      • wjts

        The fetal cadavers were preserved in jars of formalin. There was also a shark skeleton in small tank of alcohol.

        • ChrisTS

          Umm, exactly what kind of university is this?

          P.S. Ought I be worried that my nearly 21 year old, adorable son collects bones of all kinds, including the skull of a cow that he … uh … cleaned? Or, that he has the very nasty looking half jawbone of something feral hanging from his car mirror?

          • ChrisTS

            ETA: Not as extreme as the kid in Top of the Lake, you understand.

            • sharculese the ignoranus

              “It’s not as bad as Top of the Lake” is something no parent should ever have to say. ;)

              • ChrisTS


          • Karate Bearfighter

            Miskatonic U. Go Fighting Squid!

            • Bill Murray

              not dear old Wassamatta U

              • Karate Bearfighter

                Wassamatta U would have fewer skeletal ape remains, and more moose and squirrel.

          • KaliuaKid

            Could be Miskatonic. GO ‘PODS!

    • hamletta

      Oh, dear Lord. My stepdad and I just donated my mom to science. I know our dear girl will be treated with far more respect, but that’s horrifying.

  • Stag Party Palin

    If they did a proper job with the lead, whatever is in there will be …….

    fresh ……

  • rw970

    What I never understood is why the ancient Egyptians thought it would be a good idea to punish Imhotep for pretty routine treason by killing him in an excruciatingly painful manner, then turning him into a vengeful god who would bring on the apocalypse, and then burying him, complete with instructions for his resurrection, in a city of fucking gold.

    • calling all toasters

      So, kind of like the Newt Gingrich of the ancient world?

    • It’s like ra-a-ain on your wedding day…

    • Joseph Nobles

      Kicks and giggles has been humanity’s raison d’etre for millennia.

    • witless chum

      Because they knew self-conscious B movies starring Brendan Frasier are a blast. At least that’s what I presume Bird squiggle monkey arrow means.

      • rw970

        It all depends on the pronounciation.

  • joejoejoe

    I read something once about the durability of meaning for warning marks on nuclear storage. It turns out in the long run we are all Ren & Stimpy and warnings simply become big candy red button if they were made long ago. Putting the button inside of two boxes is another way of saying the candy inside is DELICIOUS.

    • Halloween Jack

      Yeah, I read about that project, to clearly mark nuclear waste storage sites, and the efforts to put (in some sort of pictograph form, because who knows what someone hundreds of thousands of years from now would be able to read, if they even could) some sort of clear message that “this really isn’t a pile of excellent loot, it’s some really bad stuff that will kill you slowly and horribly”, because that’s exactly what someone stashing some excellent loot would say.

      • I also read about this–as long ago as the late 1970s, I think–and learned much later that a high school chum had worked on the project. I recall a series of illustrations depicting a steel drum bearing the “radiation” chop being approached by a cartoon human figure who pops the lid. In the next panel we see the figure toppling backward as the open container emits a flash, and finally we see a skeleton on the ground beside the drum. The idea was to convey the danger to a no-longer technological, perhaps no-longer literate society. What I thought looking at this sequence, and trying to see it from the standpoint of such a hypothetical successor society, was not “Loot!” but “Cool! Let’s roll this sucker downhill and kill those bastards in the next village over and take all their stuff!”

        • zombie rotten mcdonald

          Now I KNOW I’ve seen that movie.

        • drkrick

          “Look at this – it must be where they stored all the very best cassette tapes!”

  • Best not to take chances. Seal it back up and launch it into the Sun.

    • David W.

      Set the controls for the heart of the sun…

  • mch

    I recommend Hillary Mantel’s trilogy. That will make all this more interesting.

  • enemyAI

    “Chick! CHIIIICK! You know that person that you said there’s no such person?” “I think he’s in there. In person.”

  • Njorl

    Don’t worry. They’ve sent for Bruce Campbell.

    • Ash

      KLAATU . . . VERATA . . . NICT- … nicktie? noodle?

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  • Dennis Brennan

    Reminds me vaguely of

  • Dennis Brennan

    Reminds me vaguely of SCP-902:

  • Dennis Brennan

    Oh, hell, just go google the SCP Foundation.

  • Grocerer

    Mellified man.

  • Roger Ailes

    “After its opening, the lead inner coffin was moved to the University of Leicester for researchers to analyze how to access it without damaging the remains inside.”

    Sounds like a job for Erwin Schrödinger.

  • pinemarten

    I can’t help but wonder whether this is somehow related to the Pacific walrus bones found interred together with human bones in a coffin buried beneath the St Pancras train station.


  • L.

    I’m delighted by the Buffy reference, but feel compelled to point out that there is also an applicable episode of Star Trek: TNG

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  • She who shall not be named

    oh sorry, it was the beacon which I just remember is grail shaped. sorry to trouble you.

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