Months after Egypt boldly announced that archaeologists had identified a mummy as the most powerful queen of her time, scientists in a museum basement are still analyzing DNA from the bald, 3,500-year-old corpse to try to back up the claim aired on TV.
Progress is slow. So far, results indicate the linen-wrapped mummy is most likely, but not conclusively, the female pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled for 20 years in the 15th century B.C.
Running its own ancient-DNA lab is a major step forward for Egypt, which for decades has seen foreigners take most of the credit for major discoveries here.
It's time Egyptian scientists took charge, said Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief who spearheaded the quest to find Hatshepsut and build the lab. "Egyptology, for the last 200 years, it has been led by foreigners."
But the Hatshepsut discovery also highlights the struggle to back up recent spectacular findings in Egypt, including the unearthing of ancient tombs and mummies, investigations into how King Tut died, and even the discovery in the Siwa oasis of possibly the world's oldest human footprint.
So far, the science shown in the Discovery Channel's "Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen" has not been published in a reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal - the gold standard of scientific research worldwide.
"I think the people at the Discovery Channel went way too much 'CSI,"' said biological anthropologist Angelique Corthals, referring to television's "Crime Scene Investigation" series.
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