Mummified remains identified as Egyptian Queen Nefertari

December 5, 2016, University of York
Archaeologists believe they have identified the mummified legs of Queen Nefertari. Credit: Professor Joann Fletcher

A team of international archaeologists believe a pair of mummified legs on display in an Italian museum may belong to Egyptian Queen Nefertari - the favourite wife of the pharaoh Ramses II.

The team, which included Dr Stephen Buckley and Professor Joann Fletcher from the University of York's Department of Archaeology, used radiocarbon dating, anthropology, palaeopathology, genetics and chemical analysis to identify the remains.

They conclude that "the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari".

As the favourite wife of the pharaoh Ramses II, Nefertari was provided with a beautifully decorated tomb in the Valley of the Queens to which Professor Fletcher was recently given access.

Although plundered in ancient times, the tomb, first excavated by Italian archaeologists in 1904, still contained objects which were sent to the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

This included a pair of mummified which could have been part of a later interment as was often the case in other tombs in the region. But as the legs had never been scientifically investigated, it was decided to undertake the recent study to find out if the legs could actually represent all that remained of one of Egypt's most legendary queens.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, revealed that the legs are those of an adult woman of about 40 years of age.

Dr Buckley's chemical analysis also established that the materials used to embalm the legs are consistent with 13th Century BC mummification traditions, which when taken in conjunction with the findings of the other specialists involved, led to the identification.

Professor Fletcher said: "This has been the most exciting project to be part of, and a great privilege to be working alongside with some of the world's leading experts in this area.

"Both Stephen and myself have a long history studying Egypt's royal mummies, and the evidence we've been able to gather about Nefertari's remains not only complements the research we've been doing on the queen and her tomb but really does allow us to add another piece to the jigsaw of what is actually known about Egyptian mummification."

Explore further: Egypt finds evidence of unfinished ancient tomb

More information: Michael E. Habicht et al. Queen Nefertari, the Royal Spouse of Pharaoh Ramses II: A Multidisciplinary Investigation of the Mummified Remains Found in Her Tomb (QV66), PLOS ONE (2016). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166571

Related Stories

Egypt finds evidence of unfinished ancient tomb

June 30, 2010

(AP) -- Egyptian archaeologists who have completed excavations on an unfinished ancient tunnel believe it was meant to connect a 3,300-year-old pharaoh's tomb with a secret burial site, the antiquities department said Wednesday.

Expert with new theory on Nefertiti's tomb invited to Egypt

August 19, 2015

An Egyptologist behind a new theory that ancient Queen Nefertiti's tomb may be hidden behind King Tutankhamun's 3,300-year-old tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings has been invited to come to Cairo to debate his ideas, Egypt's ...

Egyptologists identify tomb of royal children

April 28, 2014

Who had the privilege to spend eternal life next to the pharaoh? Close to the royal tombs in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, excavations by Egyptologists from the University of Basel have identified the burial place of ...

Egypt pledges fast work amid search for Nefertiti's tomb

October 1, 2015

Egyptian authorities promised Thursday they would move quickly to get new radar equipment needed to search for Queen Nefertiti's tomb amid a new theory it could be in an alleged, hidden chamber behind King Tutankhamun's tomb ...

Recommended for you

Sensual fresco discovered in ancient Pompeii bedroom

November 19, 2018

Archaeologists have found a fresco in an ancient Pompeii bedroom that depicts a sensual scene of the Roman god Jupiter, disguised as a swan, and a legendary queen of Sparta from Greek mythology.

Excavators find tombs buried in Bolivia 500 years ago

November 17, 2018

Archaeologists say they found tombs at a Bolivian quarry containing remains from more than 500 years ago that give an insight into the interaction of various peoples with the expanding Inca empire.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.