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The Search for the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut Zahi Hawass
Egyptologist and Secretary General of the
Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities
The search for the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut began in January 2006. We approached
the collection of data from two directions. First, we used a CT scanner which is now in the
Second, we studied the mummies believed to belong to Hatshepsut’s closest relatives – Ahmose-Nefertari (Fig.1), Thutmose I (Fig.2), Thutmose II (Fig.3), and Thutmose III (Fig.4).
In addition to performing CT-scans of this second group of remains, we began an attempt to apply DNA analaysis to establish the identity of Hatshepsut’s mummy by genetic comparison with those of her family members. A DNA laboratory was set up for the project in the basement of the
The group of unidentified female mummies which were the subject of the first part of our research are from three tombs: DB320 (Fig.5), KV35 (Fig.6), and KV60 (Fig.7,8). The first two of these tombs were used as caches where the mummies of earlier
It was known that Howard Carter had discovered two mummies in the tomb in the
Ayrton left the mummy of the obese woman, KV60-A (Fig.8), in the tomb, where it was re-examined by Donald Ryan in 1989. Almost from the beginning, this mummy seemed the most likely candidate; in fact, in 1966, Elizabeth Thomas had suggested Hatshepsut as a possible identification. KV60 lies directly below KV20, Hatshepsut’s original burial place. We know that the priests of the 21st Dynasty first relocated the royal mummies to tombs near their original resting places before depositing them in the caches. KV60 seemed a likely place to look for the queen’s remains, because of its well-hidden location, and the success of the builders in hiding the tomb’s entrance. In addition, Ryan discovered a number of coffin fragments inside, including one portion of a face with an indentation under the chin into which a false beard could have been fitted, an indication that the remains of a royal burial had lain in the tomb. I had KV60-A (Fig.9) brought to the Museum to be included in the study. Dr. Ashraf Selim, Professor of Radiology at
The mummy known as KV60-A (Fig.10) is that of a woman about 159 cm tall, who died around the age of 50. She was obese in life, to the extent that her body had to be eviscerated for embalming through the pelvic floor rather than through the normal abdominal incision. Her brain, like those of the other mummies we examined as part of this study, was not extracted but left inside the skull. The mummy’s teeth were in extremely poor condition, showing varying degrees of rarefaction and resorption around their roots. Most of the teeth contained caries, and some had broken crowns. The right upper 7th tooth was absent, although the root was still embedded in the jaw. The poor condition of the mummy’s mouth, along with its obesity, raises the possibility of diabetes mellitus. The thorax was in good condition, and the heart could be visualized. A soft tissue mass in the pelvis, which arose from the left iliac bone and was eroding both of its surfaces, indicates that the woman suffered from metastatic disease, further evidence of which may be seen in the rarefaction of the bones of the spine. A large perineural cyst was also on the left side of the spine.
The next step was to scan the mummies thought to belong to Hatshepsut’s close relatives, in order to identify physical features common to the members of the family, and to perform DNA analysis to find genetic similarities among them (Fig.11).
We began with the mummy thought to be that of Thutmose I, Hatshepsut’s father. The identification of this mummy has been in question for some time. We know that it was found in DB320, inside a set of two nested coffins. It is widely accepted that these coffins were made during the 18th Dynasty and reused for Pinudjem I, whose inscriptions can be seen in spite of the damage the coffins suffered when the gold which covered their surfaces was removed with an adze. In 1909, Daressy noted the cartouche of Thutmose I on the outer coffin, in the center of the lid. Winlock repeated this observation in 1929, and added that based on measurements of the two coffins he felt that they had been made as a set. Reeves states that both coffins were made for Thutmose I and reused by Pinudjem, but also states that “in their finished state, the original ownership was wholly undetectable.” It is important that we re-examine these coffins.
The presence of the cartouche, along with the style of mummification (which dated the mummy to the 18th Dynasty), led to the suggestion that the mummy was that of thutmose I Thutmose. Maspero felt that the mummy’s facial features were similar to those of Thutmose II and Thutmose III. However (Fig.2,3), its arms are by its sides and not crossed over its chest, the normal position for royal mummies after Amenhotep I. Previous examinations suggested that the mummy was as young as 18 or 19, while Thutmose I is thought, based on inscriptions to have died around the age of 50. Our CT-scans confirmed that the mummy is not that of Thutmose I. We learned that the mummy’s owner had in fact died between the ages of 25 and 35. In addition the scan showed a dense, triangular object, which proved to be a metal arrowhead about 2 cm in length. The arrowhead is embedded in the mummy’s right hemithorax. The surrounding portion of the chest cavity appears denser than on the left-hand side, the probable result of hematoma caused by the arrow wound. A few other small, dense, metallic objects can be seen in the mummy’s torso. We have no historical records indicating that Thutmose I died in battle, yet another indication that this mummy is not that of Hatshepsut’s father.
The identifications of the mummies of Thutmose II (Fig.3), Hatshepsut’s half-brother and husband, and Thutmose III (Fig.4), her nephew and stepson, are more secure. Our CT-scan of Thutmose II (Fig.12) revealed that he stood about 168 cm tall, and died around the age of 40. His teeth were good, but he apparently suffered from an enlarged heart, which may have been the cause of his death. The scan of the mummy of Thutmose III (Fig.13) showed that he lived to the age of about 50. His nasal turbinates were very small, an indication that he suffered from a condition known as atrophic rhinitis.
I thought that we should study the features of KV60-A (Fig.14) in comparison with those of each of the mummies thought to belong to Hatshepsut’s male relatives. The radiologists placed frontal and profile views of the heads of all four mummies side- by side, and measured the following features of each:
1. Zygomatic bone
2. Zygomaticofrontal bony ridge
3. Cheek bones
4. Mandibular ramus
5. Mandibular angle
7. Nasal bridge
Comparison of the measurements revealed that the mummies of Thutmose II and Thutmose III bore a striking resemblance to one another, sharing a mild overbite (a noted Thutmosid family characteristic), a prominent zygomaticofrontal ridge, narrow cheekbones, thin mandibular rami, obtuse mandibular angles, shallow nasal bridges, and narrow foreheads. The mummy previously identified as Thutmosis I differed considerably from the other two male mummies, having no overbite; wide cheekbones, forehead, and chin; a smooth zygomaticofrontal ridge; broad mandibular ramus; and a more vertical mandibular angle. Interestingly, the mummy thought to be Thutmose I differs from those of Thutmose II and Thutmose III in many features, like the teeth, cheekbones, jaw, and forehead. KV60-A was similar to the mummy of “Thutmose I” in some features, but in others she resembled those of Thutmose II and Thutmose III much more closely. Like the father and stepson of Hatshepsut, KV60-A had a mild overbite and prominent zygomaticofrontal ridge. Her cheekbones, chin, and forehead, however, were wider by comparison, and her nasal bridge was wider than that of any of the three male mummies. It is very difficult on the basis of this side-by-side comparison of the four faces confidently to confirm or rule out family relationships between KV60-A and the male mummies.
While we were performing the CT-scans of the mummies, I thought it would be interesting to place some of the objects associated with Hatshepsut on the machine to see if anything, not visible to the naked eye, might appear. I started with an alabaster vessel of uncertain provenance, inscribed for the queen. It is empty, and nothing of interest appeared on the scan. One evening, I told my assistant to bring a wooden box in the Museum’s collection (Fig.15). This box is inscribed with the throne and birth names of Hatshepsut. Found in DB320, it contains a bundle lying freely within. It had been thought for some time that this bundle might contain the queen’s embalmed liver. The CT-scan (Fig.16) showed the bundle as a smooth, oval-shaped object. In the absence of comparable scans of known embalmed viscera, and without some previous idea of what the bundle might have contained, it would have been quite difficult to identify these structures. The radiologists agreed, however, that they can plausibly be interpreted as an embalmed liver and perhaps an intestine.
The scan also revealed a big surprise embedded in the resin which surrounded the bundle: a small, dense object which, when examined more closely, proved to be a single molar tooth. Smaller dense fragments in the resin could be the root missing from the tooth. We brought in a dentist, Dr. Galal El-Behri from
We can conclude, regarding her health, that:
1. She suffered from arthritis of the spinal column, which would have caused back pain.
2. She suffered from osteoporosis.
3. She had a slipped disk between the lumbar and sacral spines, and suffered from painful compression of the nerves which extended to her lower body.
4. Since she was obese, with inflammatory processes in the mouth, she may have suffered from diabetes.
5. The fact that she was ill from a malignant tumor is very important. It was a tumor of a couple of centimeters in the left part of her hip, with a vast area of destroyed bone, compromising the tissues and muscles surrounding the left gluteal region.
When the Discovery Channel approached me to produce a documentary about my search for Hatshepsut, I asked them in return to build a DNA lab in the basement of the
The lab staff, led by Dr. Yehia Zakaria Gad of the
Previous sampling of mummies for DNA analysis was highly invasive. The team found nine 3 mm drill-holes in the mummy of “Thutmose I” left by investigators from
The results of the search for the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut can be summarized as follows:
· The mummy of Queen Hatshepsut was identified as KV60-A (Fig.8) by the tooth found in the box bearing the queen’s names. The tooth, and the root attached to it, perfectly fit a socket and root in the mouth of KV60-A. The match is supported by the comparison of mitochondrial DNA with the mummy of Ahmose-Nefertari.
· The Queen was not murdered, and we can completely disregard the theory that Thutmose III destroyed her monuments upon his accession. The theory that the destruction took place at the end his reign and the beginning of the reign of his son, Amenhotep II,seems even more plausible than before, now that we know that the queen’s mummy was not damaged, but left in good condition. Hatshepsut’s Red Chapel at
· We are now sure that the mummy in the Egyptian Museum thought to be that of Thutmose I is not, in fact, the mummy of the King.
1. The position of the arms beside the body is not that of a royal mummy.
2. The mummy’s facial features do not match those of the Thutmosid family.
3. We found an arrowhead in the chest of the mummy, which shows that this man was killed in battle.
4. The mummy’s owner died around the age of 30.
5. The mummy was discovered inside the two coffins which, as we discussed previdusly may or may not have belonged to Thutmose I.
The mummy of Queen Hatshepsut will be moved with that of her wet-nurse to the Royal Mummies Room in the
Fig. 1: The mummy of Queen Ahmose-Nefertari.
Fig. 2: The mummy of King Thutmose I
Fig. 3: The mummy of King Thutmose II.
Fig. 4: The mummy of King Thutmose III.
Fig. 5: The so-called “Screaming Mummy”
Fig. 6: “Unknown Woman D” from KV 35.
Fig. 7: The mummy of Hatshepsut’s wet-nurse.
Fig. 8: The mummy of Queen Hatshepsut.
Fig. 9: The mummy of Queen Hatshepsut in KV 60.
Fig. 10: CT-scanning Queen Hatshepsut’s mummy.
Fig. 11: Examining Hatshepsut’s mummy before taking DNA samples.
Fig. 12: 3D photo of Thutmose II skull, as shown by the
Fig. 13: Thutmose III.
Fig. 15: The wooden box of Queen Hatshepsut.
Fig. 16: CT images of the wooden box (bottom right) and the molar found inside.
Fig. 17: The jaws of Queen Hatshepsut’s mummy, with the missing molar indicated.