18 dicembre 2012

The Fate of Ramesses III (video interview with Albert Zink)

The fate of Ramesses III, second pharaoh of the 20th dynasty that reigned from 1186 BC to 1155 BC, has long been a debated topic. The discovery of papyrus documents shows that members of his harem, in 1155 BC, made an attempt on his life. The conspiracy was led by Tiye, one of his two known wives, and her son Pentawere, who would inherit the throne.
Today a team of researchers, led by paleopathologist Albert Zink (European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen in Italy), revealed new anthropological and forensic analyses on two mummies: Ramesses III and unknown man E (suspected son of the pharaoh).
The CT scans of Ramesses III revealed a wide and deep wound in the throat (fifth to seventh cervical vertebra) of the mummy: the trachea was clearly cut, and its proximal and distal ends were retracted and separated by about 30 mm. A small, focal cortical interruption at the vertebral body was visible (seventh cervical vertebra).
Inside the wound the researchers found a Horus eye amulet, probably inserted by the Egyptian embalmers during the mummification process to promote healing.
And the second mummy? The analysis of unknown man E revealed an age between 18 to 20 years, while an inflated thorax and compressed skinfolds around the neck of the mummy suggests violent actions that perhaps led to death. The body was not mummified in the usual way and was covered with a goatskin, which could be interpreted as evidence for a punishment in the form of a nonroyal burial procedure.
A full report of their findings is published in the British Medical Journal with the title: "Revisiting the harem conspiracy and death of Ramesses III: anthropological, forensic, radiological, and genetic study".
Authors believe that unknown man E could well be Pentawere, but they stress that the cause of death has to remain a matter of speculation. Furthermore, DNA analysis revealed that the mummies share the same parental lineage, strongly suggesting that they were father and son. They conclude that the genetic relationship between Ramesses III and unknown man E to Ramesses III, and the unusual mummification process for unknown man E makes him a good candidate for Pentaware.

Andrea Mameli www.linguaggiomacchina.it 18 Dicembre 2012
Picture above: CT revealed a serious wound in the throat of Ramesses III's mummy, directly under the larynx. Copyright: A. Zink.

Video interview with Albert Zink, Director of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at Eurac (Bozen)

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