Archaeologists Identify Mummified Legs as Queen Nefertari’s

Archaeologists Identify Mummified Legs as Queen Nefertari’s

Queen Nefertari—not to be confused with Nefertiti, the powerful queen who ruled alongside her husband, King Akhenaten, in the mid-14th century B.C.—was the first and favored wife of Ramses II, the warrior pharaoh who reigned from 1290 to 1224 B.C., during the early 19th dynasty. She contributed to Ramses’ enormous brood of children, giving birth to four sons and four daughters, and was a quiet force behind the throne, especially in foreign affairs.

Nefertari is believed to have died around 1250 B.C. when she was 40 to 50 years old, and her husband had ruled for some 25 years. Ramses II honored his beloved consort with a temple at Abu Simbel, in Nubia, as well as a magnificent tomb in the Valley of the Queens, near Thebes. Thanks to the gorgeously colored paintings on the walls, including astonishingly lifelike depictions of the beautiful queen herself, Egyptologists would rank Nefertari alongside Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra as the most celebrated female rulers in Ancient Egyptian history.

The mummified remains Schiaparelli discovered in the tomb back in 1904 were housed at the Egyptian museum in Turin, Italy, under the assumption that they Nefertari’s. But the pair of legs—including fragmented thigh bones, a kneecap and a piece of the tibia (the upper part of the bone where it widens into the knee joint)—were never actually examined, and it remained unclear whether or not they actually belonged to the famous queen.

Burial sites in the Valley of the Queens, the Valley of the Kings and elsewhere in the region were repeatedly reused, according to Joann Fletcher, an archaeologist at the United Kingdom’s University of York and a co-author of the new study. As Fletcher explained to the Guardian, “You have got the effects also of very occasional but dramatic flash floods, when all sorts of material can be washed into tombs – so while things are found in a tomb it doesn’t necessarily follow that the human remains that you are finding are those of the individual portrayed in there and on the tomb walls.”

In an attempt to solve the mystery once and for all, Fletcher and her colleagues joined experts from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, the University of Adelaide in Australia and at the Egyptian museum, where the bones have long been housed, analyzed the more than 3,200-year-old remains for the first time. Their findings, published, included anthropometric reconstruction of the knees, which indicated that they belonged to a woman who stood some 165 cm. (5 ft. 5 in.) to 168 cm. 6 in.) tall—taller than some 84 percent of other women of the period.

X-rays of the mummified bones showed some evidence of arteriosclerosis, the thickening and hardening of the artery walls that typically occurs later in life. Not only were the materials and techniques used for the embalming process similar to known mummification traditions at the time Nefertari died, but they also indicated that the corpse belonged to an individual of high social standing. As Fletcher put it: “The expertise that had gone into that mummification – even judging from the legs – the care, the attention, the wrapping, the materials employed; they are strongly suggestive someone of incredibly high status.”

The researchers also examined the sandals found in Nefertari’s tomb, which were made of vegetal material, including grass, palm leaf and papyrus, in a style typical of the 18th and 19th dynasties of ancient Egypt. The high quality of the sandals’ materials and manufacture suggested they might well have been Nefertari’s (as assumed), and size was estimated to be a European size 39-40 (U.S. size nine), which would have fit someone of the queen’s stature.

Given all the evidence, the archaeologists concluded, “the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari,” but they admitted that it was impossible to say with absolute certainty. Not only was the tomb site plundered and damaged by looters before the remains were discovered, but some of their analyses failed to confirm the identification. DNA testing was inconclusive, as the samples were contaminated and unsuitable for analysis, and radiocarbon dating indicated the remains predated the estimated lifespan of Nefertari’s by approximately 200 years. According to the study’s authors, however, this discrepancy between radiocarbon dating and traditional Egyptian chronology models is common, and has been the subject of long-running debate.


Mystery Mummy Legs Belonged to Egyptian Queen Nefertari

When Egyptologists broke open the tomb of Queen Nefertari in 1904, they found a once-lavish burial place that had been looted in antiquity. Among the broken objects left behind were three portions of mummified legs.

The legs were assumed to belong to Queen Nefertari, who was one of the royal wives of Ramesses II, or Ramesses the Great. Ramesses II ruled Egypt from around 1279 to 1213 B.C., during Egypt's 19th Dynasty.

But no one had ever scientifically analyzed the mummified legs. Now, new research finds that they belonged to a middle-aged or older woman who stood around 5 feet 5 inches (165 centimeters) tall and may have had a touch of arthritis. The findings suggest that the legs were indeed Nefertari's, researchers reported Nov. 30 in the journal PLOS ONE. [See Images of the Mummified Queen Nefertari]


Mummified Remains Identified as Queen Nefertari, Pharaoh Ramesses II’s Royal Spouse

A pair of mummified knees on display in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, belongs to Egyptian Queen Nefertari, the favorite wife of Pharaoh Ramesses II, according to a research team led by University of Zurich scientist Prof. Frank Rühli.

Egyptian Queen Nefertari playing senet, one of the world’s earliest known board games a painted depiction in the tomb of Nefertari, the Valley of the Queens, Thebes, Egypt.

“Queen Nefertari, the second Great Royal Wife of King Ramesses II (lifetime ca. 1303–1213 BC), is famous for her beautifully decorated tomb,” Prof. Rühli and co-authors said.

“The tomb was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli (1856–1928) in the Valley of the Queens in 1904. The burial had been looted in antiquity.”

“Besides the famous wall paintings, a series of broken remains (e.g. a damaged pink granite sarcophagus, broken furniture, jars, shabtis, other various small items), a pair of sandals and two fragmented mummified legs (parts of tibiae and femora) are preserved.”

“All these items and the human remains are currently housed in the Egyptian Museum in Turin.”

But as the legs had never been scientifically investigated, it was decided to undertake the new study to find out if the legs could actually represent all that remained of one of Egypt’s most legendary queens.

Prof. Rühli and his colleagues from Switzerland, Italy, France, UK and Australia used radiocarbon dating, anthropology, paleopathology, genetics and chemical analysis to identify the remains.

The study revealed that the legs are those of an adult woman of about 40 years of age.

From the size and proportion of the knees, the most likely body height of the female was determined to be 5.4 feet (1.65 m).

The chemical analysis established that the materials used to embalm the legs are consistent with 13th century BC mummification traditions.

The authors conclude that ‘the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari.’

“This has been the most exciting project to be part of, and a great privilege to be working alongside with some of the world’s leading experts in this area,” said co-author Prof. Joann Fletcher, from the University of York.

“We have a long history studying Egypt’s royal mummies, and the evidence we’ve been able to gather about Nefertari’s remains not only complements the research we’ve been doing on the queen and her tomb but really does allow us to add another piece to the jigsaw of what is actually known about Egyptian mummification.”

The team’s findings were published online Nov. 30 in the journal PLoS ONE.


Mummified knees are Queen Nefertari's, archaeologists conclude

“Having studied the woman and looked at so many images of her beautiful face I think there is a sense of immense irony that physically this is what we have got,” said Egyptologist Joann Fletcher Photograph: C. Turroni

“Having studied the woman and looked at so many images of her beautiful face I think there is a sense of immense irony that physically this is what we have got,” said Egyptologist Joann Fletcher Photograph: C. Turroni

Last modified on Wed 14 Feb 2018 20.42 GMT

A pair of mummified knees found in a tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens are most likely those of Queen Nefertari, the royal spouse of Pharaoh Ramses II, say archaeologists.

Thought to have died around 1250 BC, Nefertari was the favourite consort of Ramses the Great, and was famed at the time for her beauty.

“[Her] main role [was] to be the decorative bystander when Ramses was flexing his pharaonic muscles at public events, and she was there as the eye candy,” said Joann Fletcher from the University of York, a co-author of the research published in the journal PlosOne. “But really, [she was] a striking woman who I think exerted a quiet power behind the throne.”

Nefertari’s lavish tomb was discovered in 1904 – the walls covered in beautiful paintings, although the tomb itself had been looted long before. But it was unclear whether the fragmented, mummified legs discovered among the remaining contents did indeed belong to the queen.

When Nefertari’s tomb was discovered in 1904 it was unclear whether the fragmented, mummified legs belonged to the queen. Photograph: Courtesy of Joann Fletcher

“There is a long, long history certainly in that part of Egypt around the Valley of the Queens, the Valley of the Kings and the nobles’ tombs - you have repeated reuse of many burial sites, so lots of tombs were reused in later times,” said Fletcher. “You have got the effects also of very occasional but dramatic flash floods, when all sorts of material can be washed into tombs – so while things are found in a tomb it doesn’t necessarily follow that the human remains that you are finding are those of the individual portrayed in there and on the tomb walls.”

In an attempt to resolve the question, Fletcher and an international team of researchers carried out a host of tests on the remains– currently housed in the Egyptian museum in Turin, Italy – including radiocarbon dating, x-rays of the legs, comparison of the knees with ancient and modern samples, and an investigation of the chemistry of the embalming agents.

“Having studied the woman, and having looked as so many images of her beautiful face, I think there is a sense of immense irony that physically this is what we have got,” said Fletcher. “She has been reduced to knees. But because we don’t give up – it’s like: ‘we have got the knees, well, let’s do what we can with them.’”

The results reveal that remains belong to a woman probably aged around 40 to 50 years, who appears to have had a high social status. “The expertise that had gone into that mummification – even judging from the legs – the care, the attention, the wrapping, the materials employed they are strongly suggestive someone of incredibly high status,” said Fletcher.

Together with the chemistry of the embalming agents, and analysis of various objects found in the tomb, the authors say the evidence suggests the knees are indeed those of Nefertari.

But not everyone is bowled over by the conclusion. As Christopher Eyre, professor of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool points out, no information could be gleaned from the team’s ancient DNA analysis, comparisons to other knees can be problematic and, in any case, the knees were largely assumed to belong to Nefertari.

“This is an extremely interesting scientific analysis, but in the end it doesn’t add anything to our assumptions before we started,” he said.


Pair of mummified legs may belong to Egyptian Queen Nefertari

TURIN, Italy, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Archaeologists believe a pair of mummified legs, currently on display in Italy's Egyptian Museum, belong to one of Egypt's most famous queens, Nefertari Meritmut. Queen Nefertari was the first -- and favorite -- of the Great Royal Wives of Ramesses the Great.

A team of scientists, led by University of York archaeologists Stephen Buckley and Joann Fletcher, used radiocarbon dating, genetics and chemical analysis, as wells as anthropology and paleopathology techniques, to identify the mummified remains.

Chemical analysis suggest the embalming materials conform with mummification techniques of the 13th century B.C. Additional tests suggest the legs are those of a 40-year-old woman. The revelations, taken in totality with the other tests, suggest the remains belong to Nefertari.

"This has been the most exciting project to be part of, and a great privilege to be working alongside with some of the world's leading experts in this area," Fletcher said in a news release.

Nefertari was buried in the Valley of the Queens in a lavishly decorated tomb. The burial chamber was looted several times during antiquity. Italian archaeologists excavated what remained in 1904. The artifacts, including the mummified legs, were sent to the Egyptian Museum in Turin. The legs had not been scientifically analyzed until now.

The researchers published their discovery in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Both Stephen and myself have a long history studying Egypt's royal mummies, and the evidence we've been able to gather about Nefertari's remains not only complements the research we've been doing on the queen and her tomb but really does allow us to add another piece to the jigsaw of what is actually known about Egyptian mummification," Fletcher concluded.


Pair of mummified legs may belong to Egyptian Queen Nefertari

TURIN, Italy, Dec. 5 (UPI) — Archaeologists believe a pair of mummified legs, currently on display in Italy’s Egyptian Museum, belong to one of Egypt’s most famous queens, Nefertari Meritmut. Queen Nefertari was the first — and favorite — of the Great Royal Wives of Ramesses the Great.

A team of scientists, led by University of York archaeologists Stephen Buckley and Joann Fletcher, used radiocarbon dating, genetics and chemical analysis, as wells as anthropology and paleopathology techniques, to identify the mummified remains.

Chemical analysis suggest the embalming materials conform with mummification techniques of the 13th century B.C. Additional tests suggest the legs are those of a 40-year-old woman. The revelations, taken in totality with the other tests, suggest the remains belong to Nefertari.

“This has been the most exciting project to be part of, and a great privilege to be working alongside with some of the world’s leading experts in this area,” Fletcher said in a news release.

Nefertari was buried in the Valley of the Queens in a lavishly decorated tomb. The burial chamber was looted several times during antiquity. Italian archaeologists excavated what remained in 1904. The artifacts, including the mummified legs, were sent to the Egyptian Museum in Turin. The legs had not been scientifically analyzed until now.

The researchers published their discovery in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Both Stephen and myself have a long history studying Egypt’s royal mummies, and the evidence we’ve been able to gather about Nefertari’s remains not only complements the research we’ve been doing on the queen and her tomb but really does allow us to add another piece to the jigsaw of what is actually known about Egyptian mummification,” Fletcher concluded.


Researchers Identify Queen Nefertari’s Mummified Knees

Nefertari was the royal wife of Pharaoh Ramses II, and her beauty was unmatched. So was her tomb—the walls are painted with beautiful images of the queen and a starry sky on the ceiling. But the contents of the cavern were in disarray when archeologists first opened the tomb in 1904. Her sarcophagus was smashed. The only human remains left were mummified leg fragments. It was not known if they belonged to the queen or someone else, reports Nicola Davis at the Guardian.

That’s why a team of international archaeologists decided to take a closer look, publishing their analysis in the journal PlosOne. According to Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience, the researchers examined the mummified remains currently housed at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy. X-raying the three pieces of leg confirmed the presence of a pair of human knees, with pieces of a femur, a partial tibia, a fibular bone, as well as the patella. The bones corresponded to a woman who died between age 40 and 60, and there were some indication of arthritis in the legs. This corresponds with what is known about Nefertari, who the researchers say likely died in her 40s, sometime during the 25th year of Ramses II’s reign.

Pappas reports that the arteries along the tibia showed some calcification, also an indicator of her age. An analysis of the wrappings showed that the embalming process used a generous amount of animal fat, consistent with embalming practices used at the time of the queen’s death.

There were some inconsistencies. The embalming method contaminated the queen’s DNA, which was severely degraded to begin with, making it impossible to get a sample. Radiocarbon dating also placed the mummy between 1607 and 1450 B.C., earlier than Ramses reign, though the researchers say contamination from sediment could have skewed the dating.

The researchers are still convinced the legs are from the queen, mainly because there is no sign that the tomb housed a second body. Since it’s on a hill it’s unlikely that another mummy could have been washed into the crypt during a flood. “The most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari,” the researchers say in a press release.

The name Nefertari means “beautiful companion,” and the queen was held in great regard by Ramses and the people of Egypt. It’s also believed that, while her official role was to serve as eye candy and stand next to the Pharaoh, she may have wielded some political power behind the scenes. “Having studied the woman, and having looked as so many images of her beautiful face, I think there is a sense of immense irony that physically this is what we have got,” Fletcher tells Davis. “She has been reduced to knees. But because we don’t give up—it’s like: ‘we have got the knees, well, let’s do what we can with them.’”

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.


Experts Have Finally Identified These Ancient Mummified Knees

Who did these knees belong to? That's a question scientists have been trying to figure out for decades.

And according to a new study, they might have finally found the answer.

The mummified leg bones were first discovered in 1904 inside Queen Nefertari's royal tomb in Egypt. Archaeologists had always assumed they were the queen's, and new evidence suggests that might actually be the case.

A team of researchers conducted a thorough study of the bones, including X-rays, radiocarbon dating, chemical analysis and more.

They determined that the legs' owner was a woman who was about 5 feet, 4 inches tall, had mild arthritis and died somewhere between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.

And one of the researchers told The Guardian the careful way the bones were mummified suggests the body belonged to someone very important.

He told the outlet: "She has been reduced to knees. But because we don’t give up — it's like: 'We have got the knees, well, let's do what we can with them.' . The expertise that had gone into that mummification — even judging from the legs — the care, the attention, the wrapping, the materials employed they are strongly suggestive someone of incredibly high status."

There's no way to know for sure if the mummified knees did belong to Queen Nefertari. But after all of the tests were completed, the research team determined that the identification is "highly likely."


Mummified remains identified as Egyptian Queen Nefertari

Archaeologists believe they have identified the mummified legs of Queen Nefertari. Credit: Professor Joann Fletcher

A team of international archaeologists believe a pair of mummified legs on display in an Italian museum may belong to Egyptian Queen Nefertari - the favourite wife of the pharaoh Ramses II.

The team, which included Dr Stephen Buckley and Professor Joann Fletcher from the University of York's Department of Archaeology, used radiocarbon dating, anthropology, palaeopathology, genetics and chemical analysis to identify the remains.

They conclude that "the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari".

As the favourite wife of the pharaoh Ramses II, Nefertari was provided with a beautifully decorated tomb in the Valley of the Queens to which Professor Fletcher was recently given access.

Although plundered in ancient times, the tomb, first excavated by Italian archaeologists in 1904, still contained objects which were sent to the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

This included a pair of mummified legs which could have been part of a later interment as was often the case in other tombs in the region. But as the legs had never been scientifically investigated, it was decided to undertake the recent study to find out if the legs could actually represent all that remained of one of Egypt's most legendary queens.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, revealed that the legs are those of an adult woman of about 40 years of age.

Dr Buckley's chemical analysis also established that the materials used to embalm the legs are consistent with 13th Century BC mummification traditions, which when taken in conjunction with the findings of the other specialists involved, led to the identification.

Professor Fletcher said: "This has been the most exciting project to be part of, and a great privilege to be working alongside with some of the world's leading experts in this area.

"Both Stephen and myself have a long history studying Egypt's royal mummies, and the evidence we've been able to gather about Nefertari's remains not only complements the research we've been doing on the queen and her tomb but really does allow us to add another piece to the jigsaw of what is actually known about Egyptian mummification."


Contents

Nefertari held many titles, including: Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt), Sweet of Love (bnrt-mrwt), Lady of Grace (nbt-im3t), Great King's Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt), his beloved (hmt-niswt-wrt meryt.f), Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy), Lady of all Lands (hnwt-t3w-nbw), Wife of the Strong Bull (hmt-k3-nxt), god's Wife (hmt-ntr), Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w-mhw). [2] Ramesses II also named her 'The one for whom the sun shines'.

Although Nefertari's family background is unknown, the discovery in her tomb of a knob inscribed with the cartouche of Pharaoh Ay has led people to speculate she was related to him. [1] The time between the reign of Ay and Ramesses II means that Nefertari could not be a daughter of Ay and if any relation exists at all, she would be a great-granddaughter. There is no conclusive evidence linking Nefertari to the royal family of the 18th Dynasty, however. [3] Nefertari married Ramesses II before he ascended the throne. [4] Nefertari had at least four sons and two daughters. Amun-her-khepeshef, the eldest, was Crown Prince and Commander of the Troops, and Pareherwenemef would later serve in Ramesses II's army. Prince Meryatum was elevated to the position of High Priest of Re in Heliopolis. Inscriptions mention he was a son of Nefertari. Prince Meryre is a fourth son mentioned on the façade of the small temple at Abu Simbel and is thought to be another son of Nefertari. Meritamen and Henuttawy are two royal daughters depicted on the façade of the small temple at Abu Simbel and are thought to be daughters of Nefertari. [1]

Princesses named Bak(et)mut, [5] Nefertari, [1] and Nebettawy are sometimes suggested as further daughters of Nefertari based on their presence in Abu Simbel, but there is no concrete evidence for this supposed family relation.

Nefertari first appears as the wife of Ramesses II in official scenes during the first year of Ramesses II. In the tomb of Nebwenenef, Nefertari is depicted behind her husband as he elevates Nebwenenef to the position of High Priests of Amun during a visit to Abydos. [6] Nefertari also appears in a scene next to a year 1 stela. She is depicted shaking two sistra before Taweret, Thoth, and Nut. [7]

Nefertari is an important presence in the scenes from Luxor and Karnak. In a scene from Luxor, Nefertari appears leading the royal children. Another scene shows Nefertari at the Festival of the Mast of Amun-Min-Kamephis. The king and the queen are said to worship in the new temple and are shown overseeing the Erection of the Mast before Amen-Re attended by standard bearers. Nefertari's speech during this ceremony is recorded:

Your beloved son, the Lord of Both Lands, Usermaatre Setepenre, has come to see you in your beautiful manifestation. He has erected for you the mast of the (pavilion)-framework. May you grant him eternity as King, and victory over those rebellious (against) His Majesty, L.P.H. [7]

Nefertari appears as Ramesses II's consort on many statues in both Luxor and Karnak. In Western Thebes, Nefertari is mentioned on a statuary group from Deir el-BAhari, a stela and blocks from Deir el-Medina. [7]

The greatest honor was bestowed on Nefertari however in Abu Simbel. Nefertari is depicted in statue form at the great temple, but the small temple is dedicated to Nefertari and the goddess Hathor. The building project was started earlier in the reign of Ramesses II, and seems to have been inaugurated by ca year 25 of his reign (but not completed until ten years later). [4]

Nefertari's prominence at court is further supported by cuneiform tablets from the Hittite city of Hattusas (today Boghazkoy, Turkey), containing Nefertari's correspondence with the king Hattusili III and his wife Puduhepa. She is mentioned in the letters as Naptera. Nefertari is known to have sent gifts to Puduhepa:

The great Queen Naptera of the land of Egypt speaks thus: Speak to my sister Puduhepa, the Great Queen of the Hatti land. I, your sister, (also) be well!! May your country be well. Now, I have learned that you, my sister, have written to me asking after my health. . You have written to me because of the good friendship and brotherly relationship between your brother, the king of Egypt, The Great and the Storm god will bring about peace, and he will make the brotherly relationship between the Egptian king, the Great King, and his brother, the Hatti King, the Great King, last for ever. See, I have sent you a gift, in order to greet you, my sister. for your neck (a necklace) of pure gold, composed of 12 bands and weighing 88 shekels, coloured linen maklalu-material, for one royal dress for the king. A total of 12 linen garments. [3] [4] [8]

Nefertari is shown at the inaugural festivities at Abu Simbel in year 24. Her daughter Meritamen is depicted taking part in place of her mother in some of the scenes. Nefertari may well have been in failing health at this point. After her death she was buried in tomb QV66 in the Valley of the Queens. [4] [7]


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