Tooth is key to mystery mummy’s identity

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by nakedwally, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. nakedwally

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    Taken from The Herald : News: HEADLINE NEWS



    Egyptian archaeologists have hailed the most significant discoveries since finding King Tutankhamun's tomb after identifying one of ancient Egypt's few women pharaohs and one of its most mysterious rulers.
    The remains of Queen Hatshepsut were recovered more than a century ago but have now been identified by scientists thanks to a single ancient molar combined with DNA testing. She ruled for 20 years in the 15th century BC, dressing like a man and wearing a fake beard.
    The mummy was first found in 1903 in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, where the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun was buried, but it was left unidentified at the site for decades. Two months ago, it was brought to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for testing, said Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief.


    A team led by Mr Hawass carried out a series of tests. The clinching evidence was that a tooth in a box inscribed with the pharaoh's name was a perfect match for the missing upper molar in the mummy.
    The box, found in 1881, was in a cache of royal mummies collected and hidden away for safekeeping at the Deir al Bahari temple about 1000 yards from the Valley of the Kings. During the embalming process, it was common to set aside spare body parts and preserve them in such a box.
    Yehya Zakariya, an orthodontics professor, checked all the mummies which might be Hatshepsut's and found the tooth was a perfect fit in a gap in the upper jaw one of them, enabling the identification to be sealed. "We are 100% certain the mummy belongs to Hatshepsut," he said.
    "The identification of the tooth with the jaw can show this is Hatshepsut. A tooth is like a fingerprint. The discovery of the Hatshepsut mummy is one of the most important finds in the history of Egypt."
    The discovery, announced yesterday at the museum in Cairo, has not been reviewed independently. Another mummy, which had been in the Egyptian Museum for decades and was long believed to be the queen's wet nurse Sitre-In, was initially investigated as possibly being Hatshepsut herself.
    Yesterday, Mr Hawass and Culture Minister Farouq Hosni unveiled the two mummies, kept in long glass cases draped in the Egyptian flag.
    The mummy identified as Hatshepsut reveals her to have been an obese woman, who died in her 50s, probably had diabetes and is also believed to have had liver cancer. Her left hand is positioned against her chest, in a traditional sign of royalty in ancient Egypt. DNA bone samples taken from the mummy's hip bone and femur are being compared with the mummy of Hatshepsut's grandmother, Ahmose Nefertari, said Yehia Zakaria Gad, an Egyptian molecular geneticist who is on Mr Hawass's team.
    Asked why he would not wait for more complete DNA analysis, Mr Hawass said: "You do not need anything else (other than the tooth) And we do have a definite answer now on the similarity between Hatshepsut and the grandmother, Ahmose Nefertari."
    Mr Hawass began the search for Hatshepsut a year ago, setting up a £2.5m DNA lab in the basement of the Cairo museum with an international team of scientists. The study was funded by the Discovery Channel, which is to broadcast a documentary on it next month.
    Using knowledge of royal Egyptian mummification and clues from two known tombs linked to Hatshepsut, the team narrowed their search to just four mummies from thousands of unidentified corpses.
    The (false) bearded lady

    Queen Hatshepsut ruled for 21 years from 1479 to 1458 BC, She declared herself pharaoh after the death of her husband-brother, Tuthmosis II.
    Dressing like a man and wearing a false beard, she wielded more power than two other women monarchs of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra and Nefertiti. But when her rule ended, all traces of her disappeared.
    Hatshepsut's funerary temple is located in ancient Thebes, on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. Surrounding it are the Valley of Kings and the Valley of the Queens, burial places of Egypt's pharaohs and their wives.
    She was one of the most prolific builder pharaohs, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout Upper and Lower Egypt. Almost every major museum in the world today has a collection of Hatshepsut statuary.
     
  2. dong20

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    Interesting, thanks.

    I don't know a huge amount about ancient Egypt, it's never been of that much interest, compared to other things but Hatshepsut temple was one of my favourites as I pedalled round the "Valley of the Kings". I liked its understated simplicity.

    Philae, south of Aswan, was a very close second.
     
  3. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    They don't say why this is a significant discovery. It doesn't obviously tell us anything we don't already know about Hatshepsut or the rest of the 18th dynasty.
     
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