Very cool read.
Mummy of Ancient Egypt's Nefertiti found?
Tuesday, 10 June 2003
Nefertiti. long considered one of the most powerful women of Ancient Egypt
The mummy of Queen Nefertiti, a co-ruler of Ancient Egypt and stepmother to the legendary boy king Tutankhamun, may have been found, archaeologists have announced.
Dr Joann Fletcher of the University of York in England and leader of the expedition, said her team may have unearthed Nefertiti from a secret chamber in tomb KV35 in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in Luxor.
Nefertiti, which means "the beautiful woman has come", has long been considered one of the most powerful women of Ancient Egypt. Her tomb was found near that of King Tutankhamun, the teenage king who ruled Egypt in the 14th century BC and whose tomb was first discovered in 1922.
Virtually all traces of Nefertiti and her 'heretic' husband pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled from 1353 to 1336 BC, were erased after his unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the pantheon of the gods to worship the Sun god Aton - among the earliest known practices of monotheism.
"After 12 years of searching for Nefertiti it was probably the most amazing experience of my life," said Fletcher. "Although we can only suggest the identity as a strong possibility, the findings certainly have some wide-ranging implications for Egyptology."
Nefertiti, whose likeness was sculpted in a limestone bust now in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, had an unusually high status during her husband's reign. Like her husband, Nefertiti's name was erased from historical records and her likeness defaced after her death.
The mummy was first discovered in 1898 and ignored. Fletcher was drawn to the tomb again during an expedition in June 2002 after she identified a Nubian-style wig worn by royal women during Akhenaten's reign. The wig was found near three unidentified mummies, two of them women and one a young boy.
One of the mummies, now believed to be Nefertiti, had a swan-like neck comparable to the queen, despite post-mortem blows to her face.
Fletcher also found other physical links, including the impression of a tight-fitting brow-band she once wore, a double-pierced ear lobe and shaved head. Nefertiti was one of only two of Egypt's royal women believed to have worn two earrings in each ear.
In an examination of the mummy in February 2003, scientists discovered a ripped-off right arm bent up with its fingers still clutching a royal scepter. Only pharaohs or queens were allowed to have their arms bent that way.
This evidence, including jewelry within the smashed-in chest cavity, fueled Fletcher's original belief that the mummy was Nefertiti.
"The identification is an interesting one, and will doubtless cause endless speculation," said Dr Salima Ikram, a leading expert on mummies at the American University in Cairo.
But Dr Susan James, an egyptologist who has long studied the three mummies, is skeptical. "What we know about [the mummy] would indicate that it is one of a young female of the late 18th dynasty, very probably a member of the royal family. However, physical evidence known and published prior to this expedition indicates the unlikelihood of it being the mummy of Nefertiti.
"Without any comparative DNA studies, statements of certainty are merely wishful thinking," she told the Discovery Channel, which funded the study for a special to air on 17 August 2003 in the United States.
Reuters and Agenše France-Presse
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