Egyptologist: Ramses III assassinated in coup attempt ~ Dan Vergano, USA TODAY.
The journal “BMJ” reports that based on results of forensic and genetic studies, Ramses III likely was the victim of an assassination.
Famed ancient Egyptian ruler Ramses III likely died in a bloody coup attempt in which his throat was cut, an Egyptologist team confirms, and he was likely buried with his disgraced son, one of the coup plotters.
In the current BMJ journal, a team led by Egypt’s Zahi Hawass reports the results of forensic and genetic studies of two mummies found in the tomb of Ramses III (or Ramesses III), who is long known from papyrus records to have been the target of a palace assassination attempt around 1155 B.C. The court records, written in the flowery language of the ancient “New Kingdom” court of the time, had left unclear whether the pharaoh had survived the assassination attempt.
It appears he did not. X-ray analysis, “revealed a serious wound in the throat of Ramesses III’s mummy, directly under the larynx,” reports the study. “The extent and depth of the wound indicated that it could have caused the immediate death of Ramesses III.”
An “Eye of Horus” amulet (linked to royalty and healing) that was placed in the wound shows the slashed throat was present at the time of the mummy’s embalming. “I was shown the initial report and it seems to me — based on the size and shape of the wound-the violent thrust to the neck was made with a New Kingdom style dagger,” says Penn State’s Susan Redford, author of The Harem Conspiracy: The Murder of Ramesses III.
“The drama was already well known and Egyptologists presumed he was murdered. This now seems to have been substantiated,” says UCLA Egyptologist Willeke Wendrich. “It is still a riveting story, though…”
A 2011 Science Channel documentary had noted the bandages on the mummy’s throat and tied them to the assassination, a coup attempt blamed on one of the pharaoh’s wives in a bid to place her son, Pentawere, atop Egypt’s throne.
A mummy of a young man found in the pharaoh’s tomb turned out to possess genes tied to Ramses III, “strongly suggesting that they were father and son,” says the study. The young man, designated “E” in the study, may have been strangled.
“The unusual mummification process of unknown man E, including the ritually impure use of a goat skin to cover the body, could be interpreted as evidence for a punishment in the form of a non-royal burial procedure,” concludes the study. “Together with the genetically proven family relationship with Ramesses III, we therefore believe that unknown man E is a good candidate for Pentawere.”
Although Redford does agree with the identification of Pentawere, “one thing does give me pause,” she says: “In the ancient texts of the trial transcripts it states clearly that Pentawere was allowed to commit suicide. As far as I know — one cannot strangle oneself to death — so we have a problem here.”
- New Evidence Says Egyptian Pharaoh Was Murdered (sci-tech-today.com)
- Who killed Ramesses III? (sott.net)
- ScienceShot: Who Killed Ramesses III? (news.sciencemag.org)
- 3,000-year-old murder solved (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Egyptian Pharaoh’s Throat Was Slashed During Coup, Research Suggests (news.health.com)
- Karnak: Temple Complex of Ancient Egypt (livescience.com)