|“||I recognize one of them, an Egyptologist, Dr. Chamberlain- formerly attached to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, left under a cloud of scandal. Treasure hunting riffraff, I'd say.||”|
–Evelyn Carnahan to Rick O'Connell., The Mummy (novelization)
Dr. Allen "Chamberpot" Chamberlain was an Egyptologist that accompanied a group of treasure hunters in the search of the lost City of the Dead, Hamunaptra, and was thus subject to a curse that would take down other men who disturbed some particular relics.
Once an eminent Egyptologist back in New York City working with the Metropolitan Museum , Dr. Allen Chamberlain was compelled to leave due to a "cloud of scandal", implying that Chamberlain was a treasure-hunter as much as anything else, and whose prestige was enough at least for Evelyn Carnahan to know of him. After his departure from New York, Dr. Chamberlain took to making headquarters in Cairo; a small cramped office right above a glassblower's shop was where Chamberlain's new place of business was.
Journey to Hamunaptra
Chamberlain was on a self-guided mission after his leave: to find any artifacts that would bring him prestige and fame. With this in mind, Chamberlain set out with Burns, Daniels, and Henderson, a trio of treasure-seeking Americans with the common goal betwixt them all to find the lost City of the Dead, Hamunaptra, led by a former French Foreign Legionnaire that had returned alive from Hamunaptra: Beni Gabor.
Chamberlain's knowledge of Egyptology proved indispensable on this expedition as he was the only one in this particular expedition that knew how to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and in that he knew how to speak the native tongues of locals that would later serve as diggers. Helping to set things in order for the expedition, Chamberlain began his travels alongside the Americans by riverboat, where during a poker game he and his group met Rick O'Connell, who was leading a group of people to find Hamanaptra as well. O'Connell made it clear that he was willing to wager on finding the city, but to wager with his life and not his money was his goal. At this remark, Chamberlain haughtily asked what made O'Connell so confident, with O'Connell asking Chamberlain the same thing, to which Henderson explained that his group had a guide that had actually been to the ruins, Beni Gabor, who had it in mind to leave the Americans behind in the desert, taking his pay, but was thwarted by the Americans' decision to pay only half of the commission on the boat and the other half once they made it back safely to Cairo.
Later that night, a small force of Medjai warriors snuck aboard the riverboat, nearly killing Evelyn in the process in searching for a puzzle box in her possession that Evelyn's Medjai assailant referred to as "the key". A number of the Medjai were shot and killed as O'Connell, soon joined by Burns, Daniels and Henderson (as Dr. Chamberlain hid behind them), staved them off. At this point, the riverboat caught fire and went up in a blaze, compelling all aboard, including the three American treasure-hunters and Dr. Chamberlain, to jump ship into the Nile, where Dr. Chamberlain and his associates were lucky enough to reach the side of the Nile that their horses and camels had swum to when they were released from the boat, but not lucky enough to be on the right side of the river.
Not long after, Chamberlain and his group met up with O'Connell's group in the middle of the desert. The race still on over who would reach the City of the Dead first, the sun rose in the desert, lighting the path to the ruins and both parties raced off on camels, horses, and a mule in Dr. Chamberlain's case, with O'Connell and his group, led by Evelyn, reaching the city first, and winning the wager.
Once both teams set up camp in the ruins, Dr. Chamberlain had hired diggers set aside any artifacts that might be of some importance aside for further study while he gave orders from the shade of an umbrella. Henderson noticed O'Connell's group doing the hard work, unlike the Americans' party, and asked Chamberlain if they knew something of pertinence on where to find treasures; Chamberlain haughtily replied that the rival group was led by a woman, and that a woman knew nothing. Later that day, Chamberlain and the three Americans began to explore the ruins and came across a dig site set right at the base of a fallen statue of Anubis, knowing not that O'Connell's group had also eyed that spot. Evelyn asked the Americans to leave the site, but Dr. Chamberlain insisted that it was their dig site. At gunpoint, the Americans won the argument over the dig site, not knowing that below the statue base was another dig site.
The three Americans expected to find treasures below the statue base, and Henderson himself was about to pry open the statue base for treasures, but Chamberlain stopped him from prying it, having the diggers present at the site open the compartment instead. Three diggers stepped forward and began to pry at the statue base's compartment, Chamberlain ordering them on to put force into it, but the result had the three diggers drenched in pressurised salt acid, part of a trap in the compartment.
That night, the campsites were invaded by a small force of Medjai, armed and storming the site, as Chamberlain ran screaming for Henderson to wake up so that he might fight off the warriors. During the fray, several Medjai and several diggers were killed, resulting in a draw that had the Medjai leader demanding that both expeditions must leave the ruins or die. Both parties of treasure-hunters were concerned at what had caused these nomads to attack them, neither having any explanation other than O'Connell's reasoning that the Medjai were not after the treasure, that they valued water and not gold, and the resulting suggestion made that the groups could be rivals without being enemies, so as to join forces at night in case any more Medjai came back.
The next morning, Dr. Chamberlain and the Americans returned to the statue base and continued prying open the compartment, as the salt acid had apparently run out of the trap, finding an ornately carved wooden chest with hieroglyphs from within the statue base. As the diggers present ran off in fear of the chest, Dr. Chamberlain proceeded to read its inscriptions: death would come to whoever had a part in the opening of the chest, that one known as "the undead" was bound by sacred law to consummate a curse, killing all who opened the chest and assimilating their organs and fluids, and in so doing would be not undead but a plague upon the Earth. None of the Americans believed this and struggled to get it open, telling Beni to help open it, but Beni ran off screaming in fear of the curse which was stated upon the chest. Chamberlain himself was reluctant to open the chest, but the three Americans pried it open regardless.
Inside of the chest was an object that Chamberlain was astonished to see, the Book of the Dead, something that had been considered pure legend and was derided by the Americans as worthless as they demanded where the treasure was. Chamberlain insisted that the book itself was a treasure; Henderson kicked at the chest in upset and revealed another compartment within the chest, where stored were five canopic jar:, four whole and one fifth shattered jar. Each man present took a canopic jar as his prize, with Dr. Chamberlain taking the Book of the Dead as well back to his tent, where he tried to pry it open later that evening, to no success. Evelyn witnessed Chamberlain trying to pry it open and remarked that he required a key to open it.
It was that night that Evelyn went into Chamberlain's tent as he was asleep and removed the Book of the Dead from his grasp so that she might examine the Book. The Book opened with the key, Evelyn read aloud the text to O'Connell, not knowing that at that very moment the mummy what she and her group had discovered earlier had awoken. The second she finished reading the text, Chamberlain awoke from his sleep, screaming that she must not read from the Book, but the damage was done: the mummy which Evelyn had brought back also brought with him the very same Ten Plagues that afflicted Egypt in biblical times, the first of which was a great swarm of locusts which descended onto the camp, covering everything in sight and forcing nearly all into the tunnels below, except for Dr. Chamberlain, who sat amidst the swarm of locusts with the Book of the Dead in his grasp, being covered by locusts.
Shortly after, Chamberlain was caught by the Medjai and held hostage as the Medjai explained what had been done: the mummy that had been brought back was invincible to mortal weapons and would never cease bringing suffering until he was regenerated. At this point, Burns was brought forward, his eyes and tongue ripped out of his head; the Medjai had saved Burns before the mummy could finish his work. Both expeditions needed no further telling: they all fled Hamanaptra at once, heading for Cairo, Dr. Chamberlain still keeping the Book of the Dead and the canopic jar that he had chosen.
In Cairo and Demise
Dr. Chamberlain did not regroup with the other expedition members of either side once they reached Cairo and headed away, unknowing that the mummy Imhotep lurked the streets, searching for whomever was bound to the curse so as to kill them off. Chamberlain had the Book of the Dead in his possession and his canopic jar as he tried to escape, and as he wandered the streets, O'Connell, regrouping with Evelyn, her brother Jonathan, and the two surviving American treasure hunters planned to find Dr. Chamberlain and bring him back to the safety of the Fort where they were staying. O'Connell and Jonathan headed for Chamberlain's office, but the doctor was not in, rather Beni, who was looking for the Book of the Dead and the canopic jar that Chamberlain had while pocketing a valuable or two from the Egyptologist's office, including a silver watch from the Egyptologist's desk.
As O'Connell caught Beni in the act, interrogating him on what he was doing, a loud shriek was heard from outside, and O'Connell and Jonathan ran to the window to see what had happened as Beni escaped. Dr. Allen Chamberlain had been found dead and desiccated as if he were a mummy himself, amid the townspeople, a shrouded figure standing above the body and plucking from its withered grip the Book of the Dead and a canopic jar.
Personality and Traits
Dr. Allen Chamberlain was versed in Egyptology and other areas of knowledge, but still held his view that what was set forth in ancient times still had as much power as it did then. Despite his former position in the New York Metropolitan Museum, or perhaps because of it, Dr. Chamberlain had a haughty approach to certain situations, believing for instance that a woman knew nothing of Egyptology, and though Chamberlain thought logically at times could still be frightened by certain elements, such as the prospect of being cursed.
Chamberlain had brown parted hair and dressed in the clothes of a professor in the field: a khaki-coloured suit with a dark grey vest and patterned necktie over a pinstriped shirt with a white collar, accentuated by a red fez which he constantly wore, as well as a monocle at times, particularly when doing close-up work. When in certain settings, Chamberlain wore a grey scarf and he wore dark grey shoes; hanging from his vest pocket, Dr. Chamberlain had a silver pocket watch. Chamberlain also carried an umbrella for his travels to Hamanaptra, which he kept open whenever out in the sun until the skirmish with the Medjai in Hamanaptra, at which point the umbrella was sheared. At night, Chamberlain wore a long white burnous in place of his jacket. Beneath his fez, Chamberlain kept his hair short, parted and flat.
Behind the scenes
Dr. Allen Chamberlain was portrayed by actor Jonathan Hyde.
Chamberlain's portrayal in the novelisation was different to that shown in the film; his name is spelled "Chamberlin", he has clear eyes, a wispy moustache and hair, wears a pith helmet and khaki clothes rather than a fez and a cream-coloured suit, and was revealed in the novel to have had some previous attachment to the New York Metropolitan Museum after having left under suspicious circumstances.
In the film script, however, Chamberlain is referred to as simply the "Arab Egyptologist".
Notes and references
- The Mummy (novelization), p71: "A Night on the Nile"