A mystery some 3,000 years in the making may have just been solved. Archaeologists think they have solved the mystery of the “screaming mummy. According to the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry, markings around the mummy’s neck show the person was likely hanged. This lines up with the ancient texts on the Harem Conspiracy, detailing the plot by Prince Pentawere and queen Tiye – the pharaoh’s son and second wife – to kill Ramses III. The body, also known as ‘Unknown Man E,’ is now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for the first time. DNA extracted from the bones of both the unidentified mummy and Ramses III, indicate the Screaming Mummy is Ramses III’s son, according to sources. ‘The gruesome mummy of Unknown Man E, also known as the “Screaming Mummy,” has long puzzled scholars,’ Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, the former Minister of Antiquities who led the Egyptian Mummies Project, told Al-Ahram Weekly.
‘Such unusual mummification has perplexed Egyptologists and no one has succeeded in knowing the story behind such a mummy until the launch of the Egyptian Mummy Project several years ago under my direction to create a complete database of forensic information related to the mummy collection at the Egyptian Museum.’ The death of Ramses III was a gruesome one, and many mysteries still surround the details of his murder.
CT scans showed that his throat was slit and his big toe cut off, likely in an attack by multiple assailants.The prince can take solace in the fact that his assassination attempt appears to have been successful. In 2012, a team of scientists studying the mummy of Ramesses III (reign 1184-1155 B.C.) found that Ramesses III died after his throat was slashed, likely in the assassination attempt that Pentawere helped to orchestrate. The scientists also performed genetic analysis, which confirmed that the “screaming mummy” was a son of Ramesses III. And, based on the mummy’s unusual burial treatment, the researchers confirmed that it is likely Pentawere’s mummy.
While the papyrus suggests the conspirators were arrested, the events of the trial were not accounted for – and, it remained unsaid whether Ramses III was actually killed as a result of the plan or not, according to the Antiquities Ministry. However, DNA analysis of the remains suggests they belong to Prince Pentewere, a son of the pharaoh Ramses III who was involved in a conspiracy to murder his father. Historical records indicate the prince was sentenced to be hanged as a result of his treachery, and marks around the neck of the screaming mummy appear to confirm this account. The remains are considered strange because they are not, in fact, properly mummified, despite being buried near the mummies of royalty. Mummification is a complex process that involves removing internal organs and embalming a body carefully.Instead, the corpse was simply left out to dry and wrapped in sheepskin instead of the fine linen used for most mummies. According to experts, sheepskin was considered impure by ancient Egyptians.
Taken together, the DNA evidence, the marks on the corpse and the manner of its burial suggest it does indeed belong to the disgraced prince. “The gruesome mummy of Unknown Man E, also known as the ‘screaming mummy’, has long puzzled scholars,” archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass. Historians believed that it was likely that, as a noble, Pentawer was given the option to commit ritual suicide rather than being burned alive like his comrades. Killing himself would preserve his body, allowing him to reach the afterlife according to ancient Egyptian beliefs. This is consistent with the indications on the Screaming Mummy that its death was the result of either poison or hanging.
After speculating for years that this mummy was Pentawer, modern scientific techniques have allowed scientists to test the DNA of the Screaming Mummy to that of the preserved body of Ramses III. This testing indicated that the two mummies shared the same paternal DNA, making it incredibly likely that the Screaming Mummy was the son of Ramses.
Finally, the mystery was solved, and the story behind the Screaming Mummy was finally revealed to be one of intrigue, conspiracy, and patricide.
The Judicial Papyrus of Turin, as modern-day scholars call it, is a manuscript that documents the trials that occurred after Pentawere’s apparently successful attempt at killing his father in 1155 B.C.
A group of butlers who remained loyal to Ramesses III — and his successor, Ramesses IV — oversaw the trial of a vast number of people who had allegedly aided Pentawere, condemning them to death or mutilation. These conspirators included military and civil officials, women in the royal harem (where the murder of Ramesses III may have happened), and a number of men who were in charge of the royal harem.
Prince Pentawere was allegedly assisted by his mother, a woman named Tiye (no relation to King Tutankhamun), who was one of Ramesses III’s wives. The judicial papyrus says that Prince Pentawere “was brought in because he had been in collusion with Tiye, his mother, when she had plotted the matters with the women of the harem” (translation by A. de Buck). Pentawere “was placed before the butlers in order to be examined; they found him guilty; they left him where he was; he took his own life,” the papyrus says.
How exactly Pentawere killed himself is a matter of debate among scholars, with poisoning and hanging (or a combination of the two) generally regarded as being the most likely methods. While the dead Pharaoh Ramesses III was initially buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, his mummy was moved after the robbery of his tomb. Interestingly, his mummy was dumped in the same mummy cache at Deir el-Bahari as Pentawere’s. The mummies of the murdered father and his killer son rested together until the family of a man named Abd el-Rassul found the cache in the 19th century. The screaming mummy is only being displayed temporarily. The display of the mummy has received widespread media attention and it is not clear how long it will be displayed for.
It is enough to say that her name means, the beautiful woman has come. Nefertiti, remains a very controversial history figure until today. She was the queen of Egypt and wife of King Akhenaton (formerly Amenhotep IV; reigned c. 1353–36 BC). who played a prominent role in the cult of the sun god known as the Aton.
Nefertiti’s parentage is unrecorded, but, as her name translates as “A Beautiful Woman Has Come,” early Egyptologists believed that she must have been a princess from Mitanni (Syria). There is strong circumstantial evidence, however, to suggest that she was the Egyptian-born daughter of the courtier Ay, brother of Akhenaton’s mother, Tiy. Although nothing is known of Nefertiti’s parentage, she did have a younger sister, Mutnodjmet. Nefertiti bore six daughters within 10 years of her marriage, the elder three being born at Thebes, the younger three at Tell el-Amarna. Two of her daughters became queens of Egypt.
The earliest images of Nefertiti come from the Theban tombs of the royal butler Parennefer and the vizier Ramose, where she is shown accompanying her husband. In the Theban temple known as Hwt-Benben (“Mansion of the Benben Stone”; the benben was a cult object associated with solar ritual), Nefertiti played a more prominent role, usurping kingly privileges in order to serve as a priest and offer to the Aton. A group of blocks recovered from Karnak (Luxor) and Hermopolis Magna (Al-Ashmunayn) shows Nefertiti participating in the ritual smiting of the female enemies of Egypt. She wears her own unique headdress—a tall, straight-edged, flat-topped blue crown. By the end of Akhenaton’s fifth regnal year, the Aton had become Egypt’s dominant national god. The old state temples were closed and the court transferred to a purpose-built capital city, Akhetaton (Amarna). Here Nefertiti continued to play an important religious role, worshipping alongside her husband and serving as the female element in the divine triad formed by the god Aton, the king Akhenaton, and his queen. Her sexuality, emphasized by her exaggeratedly feminine body shape and her fine linen garments, and her fertility, emphasized by the constant appearance of the six princesses, indicate that she was considered a living fertility goddess. Nefertiti and the royal family appeared on private devotional stelae and on the walls of nonroyal tombs, and images of Nefertiti stood at the four corners of her husband’s sarcophagus.
Some historians, having considered her reliefs and statuary, believe that Nefertiti may have acted as queen regnant—her husband’s coruler rather than his consort. However, the evidence is by no means conclusive, and there is no written evidence to confirm her political status.
Soon after Akhenaton’s 12th regnal year, one of the princesses died, three disappeared (and are also presumed to have died), and Nefertiti vanished. The simplest inference is that Nefertiti also died, but there is no record of her death and no evidence that she was ever buried in the Amarna royal tomb. Early Egyptologists, misunderstanding the textual evidence recovered from the Maru-Aten sun temple at Amarna, deduced that Nefertiti had separated from Akhenaton and had retired to live either in the north palace at Amarna or in Thebes. This theory is now discredited. Others have suggested that she outlived her husband, took the name Smenkhkare, and ruled alone as female king before handing the throne to Tutankhamen. There is good evidence for a King Smenkhkare, but the identification in the 20th century of a male body buried in the Valley of the Kings as Tutankhamen’s brother makes it unlikely that Nefertiti and Smenkhkare were the same person. Nefertiti’s body has never been discovered. Had she died at Amarna, it seems inconceivable that she would not have been buried in the Amarna royal tomb. But the burial in the Valley of the Kings confirms that at least one of the Amarna burials was reinterred at Thebes during Tutankhamen’s reign. Egyptologists have therefore speculated that Nefertiti may be one of the unidentified bodies recovered from the caches of royal mummies in the Valley of the Kings. In the early 21st century attention has focused on the “Younger Lady” found in the tomb of Amenhotep II, although it is now accepted that this body is almost certainly too young to be Nefertiti.
Amarna was abandoned soon after Akhenaton’s death, and Nefertiti was forgotten until, in 1912, a German archaeological mission led by Ludwig Borchardt discovered a portrait bust of Nefertiti lying in the ruins of the Amarna workshop of the sculptor Thutmose. The bust went on display at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin in the 1920s and immediately attracted worldwide attention, causing Nefertiti to become one of the most recognizable and, despite a missing left eye, most beautiful female figures from the ancient world.
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