Friday, June 29, 2007

Hateshepsut mummy identified by DNA

It's just my luck that all this kicked off whilst I was away - my two inboxes are a complete nightmare. Anyway, as far as I can tell here are the best of the bunch. Thanks to Kat Newkirk who continues to keep me both moderately sane and on track.
Al Ahram Weekly by Nevine El-Aref
Nevine El-Aref provides a good update on the Hatshepsut situation, providing an overview of the confusion about the mummies and a summary of the findings. Here's an extract, but see the above detailed article for the full story. It's a good read.

"Last year, when Discovery Channel approached me about searching for the mummy of Hatshepsut, I did not think I would be able to make a definite identification but it would give me an opportunity to examine unidentified female mummies from the 18th Dynasty, which no one has studied as a group," SCA Secretary- General Zahi Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly. He pointed out that although there were many theories about the identities of these mummies none of them had been tested against the latest scientific technology.

"I had to depend on a team of skilled Egyptologists, radiologists, anatomists, pathologists and forensic expert," Hawass continues, "to examine these mummies, keeping in mind that they were moved quickly at night by the high priests of Amun who controlled the Theban necropolis during the Late Intermediate Period, and who wanted to hide and preserve the bodies of 18th,19th and 20th dynasty rulers. The priests might have stripped the mummies and the royal tombs of their most valuable treasures yet still they wanted to protect the royal remains from the tomb robbers who roamed the sacred hills of Thebes."

In their hurry, Hawass believes, mummies were misplaced or unidentified. Initially the royal mummies were rehoused in nearby tombs -- records show, for instance, that the mummy of Ramses II was originally moved to the tomb of his father Seti I and then later transferred to the Deir Al-Bahari Cache. "It is difficult to plot the routes followed by the mummies," says Hawass. In the process of moving the corpses and the confusion that ensued some, at least, were unidentified, while others were stripped of all identification. "The SCA initiated the CT-scan project in order to solve at least some of the mysteries that grew out of the relocating of mummies," says Hawass, "and Hatshepsut seemed a perfect place to start."

Click on the small image to see details of all three photographs.

The National Geographic (with videos and photographs)

A broken tooth has become the key to identifying the mummy of Hatshepsut, the woman who ruled ancient Egypt as both queen and king nearly 3,500 years ago.

For decades speculation has raged over which of two female mummies found in a simple tomb in Egypt was the remains of the gender-bending queen. Was she was the dainty, fine-boned mummy gathering dust in the attic of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo? (Related photos: treasures of the Egyptian Museum.) Or was she the bosomy matron left lying on the floor of a rough tomb 445 miles (720 kilometers) south of the Egyptian capital in the Valley of the Kings? (See a map
of Egypt

This morning authorities revealed that the larger, fleshy mummy is the real Hatshepsut. (See a video and a photo gallery of the Egyptian queen's discovery.) "We are 100 percent sure," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council on Antiquities.

There is more from Donald P. Ryan on the Egyptian Dreams forum too, with some points of clarification.

Other competent summaries of the identification at

CNN (with video)

An older National Geographic article may be worth looking at if you are interested in finding out more about Hatshepsut: Egyptian "Female King" Gets Royal Treatment.

1 comment:

Ann said...

It was quite useful reading, found some interesting details about this topic. Thanks.