Image from the Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor, Egypt
Getty Images / Photodisc / Hisham F. Ibrahim
In 1881, a canopic box containing a liver was found in a cache along with other royal Egyptian remains. The box was marked with the name of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut. It's presumed that the box was moved along with other royal tomb objects during ancient times, to protect them from grave robbers. The box has been subjected to a CT scan, and unexpectedly found to contain a molar.
Howard Carter found a tomb in 1903 containing two female mummies, among other objects. One mummy, in a coffin which was ill-fitting, was identified as that of Hatshepsut's wet nurse. The other mummy, of an obese female, was not in a coffin, and was not identified. Carter closed the tomb, as he was looking for royal tombs, and presumed this was not one. The location of the tomb was forgotten. A few years later, the tomb was reopened, and the coffined mummy sent to the Cairo Museum.
In 1989, Donald Ryan rediscovered this tomb, and noted the pose of the uncoffined mummy, called KV60A. He suspected that it was Hatshepsut, as the pose was typical of royal mummies.
The mummy KV60A is of an obese woman who died in her 50s, had rotten teeth and, as revealed by the results of a CT scan, likely had bone cancer and probably also had diabetes.
For the last year, a team led by Zahi Hawass, secretary general for Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has led an investigation into identifying the mummy of Hatshepsut from among four possible "suspects" in this 3400-year-old "cold case."
Matching the molar in the box with the location of a missing molar in the mouth of the mummy KV60A showed what has been described as a sure identification of that mummy as Hatshepsut.
DNA testing has been conducted on the two KV60 mummies and on one of the male relatives of Hatshepsut, but the results have been inconclusive. Molecular geneticists are now attempting to match DNA from the mummies with DNA from the mummy that had been previously identified as Amos Nefertari, probably the grandmother of Hatshepsut.
More about this discovery will be detailed in a documentary on the Discovery Channel on Sunday, July 15 (other times outside the U.S.). Watch this site for a review of the documentary.
- Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt
- Images of Hatshepsut
- Review: Discovery Channel's Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen
- Female Pharaohs: Women Who Ruled in Ancient Egypt
- How Was Hatshepsut's Mummy Identified?
- Hatshepsut's History from Death to Today: Lost and Found
This article updated: 7/1/2007, 7/12/2007, 7/18/2007