Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Queen Hatshepsut found!

Big, big news today. Researchers in Egypt have made a positive identification of a mummy as the body of Queen Hatshepsut, one of only a handful of female Pharaohs in Egyptian history and a major New Kingdom player. Her tomb (which had been desecrated after her death in an act of damnatio memoriae) has long been identified but it didn't contain any bodies. It did, however, contain some personal effects, including a box with Hatshepsut's cartouche containing a tooth. That tooth has been matched to a mummy found in a disturbed coffin, one of two, in a nearby tomb. The coffins had obviously been moved from somewhere else. One coffin bore the name of Hatshepsut's wet-nurse. The other held an anonymous woman, aged 45 to 60, who was apparently obese and suffering from cancer. She was also missing a tooth, and the tooth from Hatshepsut's tomb exactly fits into the jaw. The identification seems certain.

Hatshepsut was the daughter of Tuthmosis I, and married to her brother, Tuthmosis II. When he died, she took the throne as Pharaoh in her own right (although technically she was only regent for her son, Tuthmosis III), adopting masculine imagery in royal portraiture and sponsoring trading expeditions to East Africa.