Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Archaeologists are set to announce the positive identification of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut:
A single tooth and some DNA clues appear to have solved the mystery of the lost mummy of Hatshepsut, one of the great queens of ancient Egypt, who reigned in the 15th century B.C.

Archaeologists who conducted the research, to be announced formally today in Cairo, said this was the first mummy of an Egyptian ruler to be found and “positively identified” since King Tutankhamen’s tomb was opened in 1922.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, said Monday in a telephone interview that the mummy was found in 1903 in an obscure, undecorated tomb in the Valley of the Kings, across the Nile from modern Luxor, and had been largely overlooked for more than a century.

Dr. Hawass said the identification of the well-preserved mummy as Hatshepsut (pronounced hat-SHEP-soot) was made a few weeks ago when a CT scan of a wooden box associated with the queen revealed a tooth. The tooth, he said, “fits exactly” into the jaw socket and broken root of the mummy of an obese woman originally found in Tomb 60 at the Valley of the Kings, the necropolis for royalty in the New Kingdom before and after Hatshepsut’s reign.

“We therefore have scientific proof that this is the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut,” Dr. Hawass concluded, citing primarily the tooth but also current DNA analysis suggesting a family relationship between the obese woman and Ahmose Nefertari, the matriarch of 18th dynasty royalty.

Other Egyptologists not involved in the project said that the finding was fascinating, but that they would reserve judgment until they had studied the results of the DNA analysis and had some of the evidence confirmed by other researchers.

“You have to be so careful in reaching conclusions from such data,” said Kathryn Bard, an Egyptologist at Boston University.

This is a fascinating discovery. The description of her as 'obese' certainly deviates from the Cleopatra-esque drawings I remember from my 6th grade text book illustrating 'Queen Hat' (as my teacher called her).

This should prove to be interesting as more information is released.

1 comment:

jdavidb said...

In ancient times it was common for the rich and royalty to be obese. The other people were probably skinny and malnourished, or at least very lean from manual labor.

Psalms refers to this phenomenon a time or two, as the poor righteous man wonders why the rich wicked are allowed to prosper and grow fat. There's also the king that Ehud slew.

I never thought of queens of Egypt (or kings) as being fat, but it makes sense.