A pair of mummified legs on display in an Italian museum may belong to Egyptian Queen Nefertari—the the pharaoh Ramses II’s favorite wife.

Researchers used radiocarbon dating, anthropology, palaeopathology, genetics, and chemical analysis to identify the remains and conclude that “the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari.”

As the favorite wife of Ramses II, Nefertari received a beautifully decorated tomb in the Valley of the Queens. Joann Fletcher, professor of archeology at the University of York, recently obtained 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 that could have been part of a later interment, as was often the case in other tombs in the region.

Since the legs had never been scientifically investigated, scientists decided to try to find out if the legs could actually be all that remained of one of Egypt’s most legendary queens.

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

Stephen 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.

“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,” says Fletcher.

This text is published here under a Creative Commons License.
Author: Alistair Keely-University of York
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