Scans Strongly Suggest That Wife And Son Killed Pharaoh Ramses III

Posted: December 23, 2012 by phaedrap1 in News, Science

 The fate of Ramesses III has long been the subject of debate among Egyptologists.

Recently, a team of researchers, led by Dr Albert Zink from the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman of the European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen in Italy, analyzed the mummies of Ramesses III the second ruler of Egypt’s 20th Dynasty, and the last of great pharaohs on the throne and unknown man E, the suspected son of the king.

Ramesses III’s reign (probably from 1186 to 1155 BC) was a time of considerable turmoil throughout the Mediterranean that saw the Trojan War, the fall of Mycenae and a great surge of displaced people from all over the region that was to wreak havoc; even toppling some empires.

Ancient papyrus trial documents mention an attempt on the pharaoh’s life in 1155 BC.

Apparently, members of his harem and several people in high positions in the pharaoh’s government were involved a palace coup.

The conspiracy was led by Tiye, one of his two known wives, and her son Prince Pentawere, over who would inherit the throne, but it is not clear whether the plot was successful or not.

Recent CT scans of Ramesses III revealed a wide and deep wound in the throat of the king’s mummy.

According to researchers, the deadly wound caused by a sharp blade and hidden by the bandages, probably caused immediate death of the king.

The neck was covered by a collar of thick linen layers.

Analysis of unknown man E revealed an age of 18-20 years, while an inflated thorax and compressed skinfolds around the neck of the mummy suggests violent actions that led to death, such as strangulation.


Additionally, the body was not mummified in the usual way – and was covered with a “ritually impure” goatskin – which the authors say could be interpreted as evidence for a punishment in the form of a non-royal burial procedure.

A Horus eye amulet was also found inside the wound, most probably inserted by the ancient Egyptian embalmers during the mummification process to promote healing.

Another mummy that belongs to unknown man E, has unusual marks around the neck, and could be Prince Pentawere, that may have been forced to kill himself as a punishment for the conspiracy.

The cause of death “has to remain a matter of speculation.”

Finally, DNA analysis revealed that the mummies share the same parental lineage, “strongly suggesting that they were father and son,” researchers say.

“Before now we knew more or less nothing about the destiny of Ramesses III. People had examined his body before and had done radiographs but they didn’t notice any trauma. They did not have access to the CT scans that we do,” Dr Albert Zink, palaeopathologist of the EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Italy, said.

“We were very surprised by what we found. We still cannot be sure that the cut killed him, but we think it did.

“It might have been made by the embalmers but this is very unlikely. I’m not aware of any other examples of this.”

The body was not mummified in the usual way – and was covered with a “ritually impure” goatskin – which might have been an ancient punishment in the form of a non-royal burial procedure.

“He was badly treated for a mummy,” said Dr Zink.


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