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Pharaoh Queen’s Mummy Identified via DNA

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Female Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s Mummy Identified via DNA
Cairo | June 27
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The mummy of Hatshepsut, the most famous queen who ruled ancient Egypt, has finally been verified via DNA and scanning tests, Egypt’s Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said Wednesday.

Over the course of a year, a team of scientists led by Zahi Hawas, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, had been working on proving the identify of the mummy, Hosni added.

The DNA centre in Cairo is the first of its kind in the world, which the Discovery Channel TV channel offered to Egypt as a gift, while the scanning machine was the National Geographic’s present to the country, Hawas said.

Hawas, however, said he was “always against the DNA test, because it wasn’t adjusted for testing mummies. Now the case is different”.

The culture minister said the final proof lay inside a box inscribed with her name, inside which a liver and a tooth were found. Tests later verified the tooth to be hers.

The mummy of Hatshepsut was one of two females found in 1903 in a small tomb believed to be that of Hatshepsut’s wet-nurse, Sitre In, Hawas said. Many Egyptologists speculated over the years that one of the mummies was that of the queen.

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Hatshepsut ruled ancient Egypt between 1503 and 1482 BC, at the utmost of Egypt’s power.

Only four women became pharaohs in ancient Egypt, Hawas had earlier said in an article about Hatshepsut on his official website.

Three of these ruled at the end of dynasties, when power was slipping from the hands of the ruling houses, according to Hawas.

“Hatshepsut ruled as a pharaoh during the golden age of Egyptian history, when Egypt ruled the East.”

Hatshepsut was the daughter of Thuthmosis I and Queen Ahmose. She married her brother Thuthmosis II and had one daughter Neferure.

Hatshepsut was also the fifth queen of the 18th dynasty, and had many great titles during this time. Some believe that her title “the divine wife of Amun” was her passport to becoming the pharaoh.

After the death of Thutmosis II, a son of a secondary wife Isis, Thuthmosis III, became the king, with his wife and stepmother, Hatshepsut, as his regent.

After a few years as regent, Hatshepsut ascended to the throne beside her nephew and became a full co-ruler.

“The concept of divine kingship in ancient Egypt has its roots in religious myth, which defined the roles of both kings and queens,” Hawas explained.

In ancient Egypt, the king was always associated with male images, such as the bull and the falcon, while his queen was identified with the vulture goddess Nekhbet. A woman, according to religious dogma, could not take the office of pharaoh.

When Hatshepsut took the kingship, she had to create a new story of her divine birth from the god, which would be shown on her temples in order to convince the people that she was actually chosen by the god. She had herself depicted in the traditional male garments of the pharaoh, with all of the usual kingly iconography.

Hatshepsut counted the years of her reign from Thuthmosis III’s accession. Although he had been occasionally depicted as co-regent as on the blocks from the Red Chapel at Karnak, she was always the dominant partner.

After she became a queen, she undertook a very ambitious building programme at Deir El-Bahari where she depicted the story of her divine birth.

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Hatshepsut was known for dressing like a man and wearing a false beard. But when her rule ended, all traces of her mysteriously disappeared, including her mummy.

She was one of the most prolific builder pharaohs of ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper and Lower Egypt. Almost every major museum in the world today has a collection of Hatshepsut statuary.

Discovered in 1903 in the Valley of the Kings, the mummy was left on site until two months ago when it was brought to the Cairo Museum for testing, Egypt’s antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said.

DNA bone samples taken from the mummy’s pelvic bone and femur are being compared to the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut’s grandmother, Amos Nefreteri, said Egyptian molecular geneticist Yehia Zakaria Gad, who was part of Hawass’ team.

While scientists are still matching those mitochondrial DNA sequences, Gad said preliminary results were “very encouraging.”

Hawass also said that a molar tooth found in a jar with some of the queen’s embalmed organs perfectly matched the mummy.

“We are 100 per cent certain” the mummy belongs to Hatshepsut, Hawass told Associated Press.

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