Saturday, 30 July 2016

Pharaoh Ramesses III killed by multiple attackers

The New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramesses III was assassinated by multiple assailants — and given postmortem cosmetic surgery to improve his mummy's appearance. Researchers used CT Imaging of royal mummies from the 18th to 20th dynasties of Egypt, spanning from about 1543 B.C. to 1064 B.C. Rulers during this period included famous names like Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Tutankhamun, Seti I and the murdered Ramesses III.

Ramesses III's throat was slit, likely killing him instantly. Now researchers say the pharaoh's toe was hacked off, likely with an ax, suggesting he was set upon by multiple assailants with different weapons. Ancient papyrus documents refer to a plot to assassinate Ramesses III, who ruled Egypt from 1186 B.C. to 1155 B.C. Court documents outline the tale of a harem conspiracy to take Ramesses III's life, hatched by one of his wives, Tiye. Her son Pentawere was in line for the throne after his half-brother, Ramesses IV. Tiye and other members of the royal household meant to kill Ramesses III and then oust Ramesses IV to install Pentawere as ruler.
They seem to have succeeded in killing Ramesses III, but were brought to trial for that murder under the rule of Ramesses IV. Tiye, Pentawere and their conspirators were convicted and executed. A mummy thought to be Pentawere's has been studied, and Egyptologists believe he died of suffocation or strangulation.

The new book adds detail to this lurid tale, suggesting that Ramesses III's attackers outnumbered him. Part of his big toe had been hacked off and had not healed, meaning the injury happened around the time of death. Embalmers had fashioned a sort of postmortem prosthesis out of linen to replace it when they mummified him. It seems ancient Egyptian embalmers deliberately poured large amounts of resin to glue the layers of linen wrappings to the feet.
A second mummy found in the same tomb is known as the Screaming Man. Screaming Man is an anomaly. Although found in a royal tomb, he was buried in an unmarked coffin devoid of proper ritual markings and with his hands and feet bound. He was also covered with a goatskin, a “ritually impure” element that would prevent him from reaching the afterlife. Screaming Man is probably Pentawere. Genetic testing has confirmed that Screaming Man and Ramesses III were directly related to each other in the paternal line.