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Queen Nefertari's Mummy Knees All That Tomb Raiders Left?

Image: Queen Nefertari's Mummy Knees All That Tomb Raiders Left?

Mummified knees likely belonging to Egypt Queen Nefertar. (Screengrab of Twitter post)

By    |   Tuesday, 06 Dec 2016 09:42 AM

Did Queen Nefertari's mummified knees get separated from the rest of her body before the 1904 discovery of a plundered tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Queens? A group of archaeologists and chemists have gotten closer to confirming that assumption.

When Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli opened the ancient tomb more than a century ago, he found it had been robbed many years before, noted the Washington Post. The mummified legs and a pair of sandals were a few of the only things found.

The knees ended up in a museum and now University of York researchers Joann Fletcher and Stephen Buckley have used radiocarbon dating, anthropology, paleopathology, genetics and chemical analysis in an attempt to identify the remains.

"… The most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari," said Buckley and Fletcher.

In an analysis published last week in the science journal PLOS One, they detailed how they performed an X-ray exam on the legs found in the tomb, which indicated they came from the body belonging to a person who died between the age of 40 to 60, said the Post.

"DNA tests on one-centimeter-square slices of skin and muscle were inconclusive," said Post writer Ben Guarino. "But a chemical analysis of the embalming agents uncovered animal fat and little else, consistent with mummification practices during the time of Ramses II."

Nefertari lived in the 13th century B.C. and considered the favorite wife of Pharoah Ramses II, noted the Post.

Fletcher told National Public Radio's "The Two-Way" that while there was an assumption the legs belong the queen, there was also plenty of room to doubt it as well.

"We know certainly in the Valley of the Queens, from previous work we've done, that individuals were often buried in earlier tombs," Fletcher told NPR. "We had no way of knowing if these were Nefertari's remains or not. They could have been washed into the tomb at a later date during one of these occasional flash floods that do occur in that part of Egypt."

Fletcher said it was the first time the mummified legs had ever been scientifically investigated and offered the potential of a more complete picture of Nefertari.

"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."

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Did Queen Nefertari's mummified knees get separated from the rest of her body before the 1904 discovery of a plundered tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Dead? A group of archaeologists and chemists have gotten closer to confirming that assumption.
queen nefertaris, mummy, knees
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2016-42-06
Tuesday, 06 Dec 2016 09:42 AM
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