June 26, 2007


Hatshepsut, Queen of Egypt, Found!

By Pamela Mortimer


The mummy of Hatshepsut, one of the most famous queens of Egypt was found in a humble tomb in the Valley of Kings, stated an archeologist on Monday.


Egyptologists have positively identified the mummy of Hatshepsut, who was one of the most famous queens beside Cleopatra and Nefertiti to rule ancient Egypt. The mummy’s tomb, originally discovered during a thwarted robbery attempt in 1903 by Howard Carter, housed two females, one of which could have been the illustrious queen. Egypt’s chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, is scheduled to hold a news conference in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the discovery. He is expected to announce what is considered to be the most important find since the 1922 discovery of “The Boy King” Tutankhamen.


Queen Hatshepsut ruled from 1503-1482 BC during Egypt’s most powerful era, and was considered to be a unique ruler in many ways. The chief queen of Tuthmosis II, Hatshepsut maintained her position and titles after her husband’s death and during the year-long reign of her step-son Tuthmosis III. In the second year of Tuthmosis III’s sovereignty, Hatshepsut stepped in and declared herself as Pharaoh. She often donned the traditional dress of the Kings and was often referred to as “he” or a feminized version of “majesty”. She also began an unsuccessful campaign to groom her own daughter for the throne. It is also believed that Hatshepsut was crowned while her father, Tuthmosis I, was still alive, proving that she was his first choice of heir to the throne. 


An unnamed archeologist stated that Hawass would present new evidence that proves Hatshepsut’s previously questionable identity.


"It's based on teeth and body parts ... It's an interesting piece of scientific deduction which might point to the truth," said the archaeologist.


Not all Egyptologists are convinced that the inhabitant of what is known as KV-60 was the Queen.


Egyptologist Elizabeth Thomas had surmised many years ago that one of the female mummies had to be Hatshepsut due to the positioning of the right arm over the chest – a sign of royalty.


Hawass disagreed.


"I do not believe this mummy is Hatshepsut. She has a very large, fat body with huge pendulous breasts, and the position of her arm is not convincing evidence of royalty," he said. "The body of the mummy now in KV-60 with its huge breasts may be the wet-nurse, the original occupant of the coffin.”


Donald Ryan, the Egyptologist who rediscovered the tomb in 1989, stated, "Zahi Hawass recently has taken some major steps to address these questions. Both of the KV-60 mummies are in Cairo now and are being examined in various clever ways that very well might shed light on these questions.”


The difficulty in identifying the mummies is partially due to the fact that Hatshepsut’s chosen tomb, which remains unfinished, was not her original, highly decorated, tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It is believed that she chose a humbler resting place in order to deter Tuthmosis III, from desecrating her grave.