Science and Nature

Egyptian pharaoh used to be executed on the battlefield, mummy unearths


A CT scan of the skull of Seqenenre Taa II, whose facial wounds suggest a violent battlefiend death.

A CT scan of the cranium of Seqenenre Taa II, whose facial wounds counsel a violent battlefiend death.

(Image: © Sahar Saleem)

Egyptian pharaoh Seqenenre Taa II would perhaps per chance well additionally enjoy died on the battlefield, overwhelmed by attackers armed with daggers, axes and spears. 

That is in step with a unusual computed tomography (CT) stare of the pharaoh’s broken mummy, which published unusual facial wounds that historical embalmers tried to conceal. The pharaoh had a enormous cleave in his brow, cuts around his eyes and cheeks, and a stab wound on the snide of the cranium that would perhaps per chance well additionally enjoy reached the brain stem. The attackers, it looks, surrounded the defeated ruler on every aspect. 

“This means that Seqenenre used to be in point of fact on the entrance line alongside with his soldiers, risking his life to liberate Egypt,” stare lead author Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology at Cairo College, said in an announcement.

Connected: Egyptian mummy ‘wintry case’ closed: Takabuti used to be stabbed to death

The mummy of Seqenenre Taa II was first discovered in the 1880s. Even then, archaeologists noticed several prominent wounds on the pharaoh's face.

The mum of Seqenenre Taa II used to be first stumbled on within the 1880s. Even then, archaeologists observed several famend wounds on the pharaoh’s face.  (Image credit: Sahar Saleem)

A struggle over hippos

Seqenenre Taa II (also spelled Seqenenre Tao II) used to be the ruler of southern Egypt between about 1558 B.C. and 1553 B.C., all thru the occupation of Egypt by the Hyksos, a of us that presumably came from the Levant . The Hyksos managed northern Egypt and required tribute from the southern section of the kingdom. According to fragmentary papyrus accounts, Seqenenre Taa II revolted against the occupiers after receiving a criticism from the Hyksos king that the noise of hippos in a sacred pool in Thebes used to be anxious his sleep. The king lived within the capital metropolis of Avaris, 400 miles (644 kilometers) away. On this trumped-up price, the Hyksos king demanded the sacred pool be destroyed — a grave insult to Seqenenre Taa II. 

This insult would perhaps per chance well additionally were the prelude to struggle. Text on a carved rock slab present in Thebes recounts that Seqenenre Taa II’s son and fast successor, Kamose, died in fight against the Hyksos. 

No one knew what had took website online to the pharaoh, even after his mummy used to be stumbled on in 1886. Archaeologists observed wounds on the cranium and speculated that he’d been killed in fight and even murdered in a palace coup. The 19th-century archaeologists who stumbled on the mummy reported a contaminated scent after they unwrapped it, main them to suspect that the mummy had been like a flash embalmed on the battlefield. 

The unusual stare makes employ of X-rays from a pair of angles to invent a 3D image of the pharaoh’s mummy. The pharaoh’s stays are in dejected condition, with bones disarticulated and the head nonetheless from the comfort of the body. 

An x-ray of the mummy of Pharaoh Seqenenre Taa II.

An x-ray of the mummy of Pharaoh Seqenenre Taa II. The cranium and masses of the bones are disarticulated.  (Image credit: Sahar Saleem)

Violent death 

On the opposite hand, the injuries on the cranium recount the narrative of a brutal death. The pharaoh had a 2.75-dash-long (7  centimeters) lower throughout his brow, which would perhaps per chance were delivered from an ax or sword stroke from above. This wound by myself would perhaps per chance were lethal. One more potentially lethal cleave above the pharaoh’s dazzling come throughout used to be 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) long and perhaps made by an ax. More cuts on the nose, dazzling come throughout and dazzling cheek came from the dazzling and from above and have to were delivered with an ax tackle or blunt workers, the researchers said. 

In the period in-between, someone in entrance of the king swung a sword or an ax on the pharaoh’s left cheek, leaving one more deep cleave. From the left, a weapon — presumably a spear — penetrated the snide of his cranium, leaving a 1.4-dash-long (3.5 cm) wound.  

Early archaeologists had previously reported many of those wounds, but Saleem and her colleague, Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, stumbled on a unusual put of living of cranium fractures lined by embalming arena materials. Concentrated on the dazzling aspect of the cranium, the hurt looks to were attributable to a dagger and a heavy, blunt object, perhaps an ax tackle. 

The mum’s hands were flexed and clenched, but there were no defensive injuries on his forearms, main the researchers to counsel that perhaps Seqenenre Taa II’s hands were drag when he died. He would perhaps per chance well additionally were captured on the battlefield and executed by a pair of attackers, Saleem said within the assertion. 

Radiologist Sahar Saleem stands with the mummy of Seqenenre Taa II during CT scanning.

Radiologist Sahar Saleem stands with the mummy of Seqenenre Taa II all thru CT scanning. (Image credit: Sahar Saleem)

Even even when researchers enjoy stumbled on pharaoh mummies with violent wounds before, there had been no proof of pharaoh battlefield deaths till now, Saleem told Dwell Science. As an illustration, Ramesses III had his throat lower in a palace coup, she said. Historic accounts recount of Ramesses II and Thutmose III taking section in fight, but there is never this form of thing as a proof of injuries on their mummies. The mum of an unidentified nobleman had an arrow embedded in its chest, Saleem said, that would perhaps per chance well additionally enjoy came about in fight. 

The proven fact that embalmers tried to patch up Seqenenre Taa II’s cranium wounds means that he wasn’t like a flash embalmed, the researchers wrote in their unusual stare, published on the present time (Feb. 17) within the journal Frontiers in Treatment. The pharaoh’s desiccated brain used to be also stuck to the left aspect of his cranium, suggesting that someone laid him on his aspect after his death, both on the net site online the put he fell or while his body used to be being transported for embalming. 

Seqenenre Taa II would perhaps per chance well additionally enjoy misplaced his life in fight, but his successors at final won the struggle. After Kamose died, Seqenenre Taa II’s consort, Ahhotep I, doubtless acted as regent, continuing the insurrection against the Hyskos. When Seqenenre Taa II and Ahhotep I’s son Ahmose I came of age, he inherited the throne and at final pushed out the foreign occupiers. Ahmose I would unify Egypt and open the New Kingdom, the length of historical Egypt‘s peak energy between the 16th and 11th centuries B.C. 

Before every little thing published on Dwell Science

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