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Friday, July 6, 2007

Mummy of Egypt's ''Lost Queen'' Found

This mummy is the body of gender-bending female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who ruled ancient Egypt as both queen and king nearly 3,500 years ago, archaeologists announced today.

The mummified remains were first discovered in a tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings more than a century ago. The body was left there unidentified until two months ago, when it was brought to Cairo's Egyptian Museum for testing.

Researchers identified the ancient queen by matching a molar known to have been Hatshepsut's with an empty tooth socket in the mummy's jaw.

The scientists are also conducting DNA tests, and preliminary results suggest a close familial relationship between the mummy and that of Hatshepsut's grandmother, Amos Nefreteri.

"We are 100 percent sure" that the mummy is Hatshepsut, said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council on Antiquities, in a press conference today.

The mummy of the pharaoh queen Hatshepsut sits on display at Cairo's Egyptian Museum.

The remains were recently identified as those of Hatshepsut using forensic and DNA testing, scientists announced today.

The discovery of ancient Egypt's "lost queen" brings to a close the centuries-long mystery of her whereabouts and also reveals details about the life and health of the female pharaoh.

Tests of her mummified tissue show that Hatshepsut died of bone cancer around the age of 50, suffered from diabetes, and was "obese," according to Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass.

Tourists at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo walk past a statue depicting the female pharaoh Hatshepsut as a man, wearing the customary beard of a male ruler.

Hatshepsut cut an extraordinary figure in ancient Egyptian history, having ruled as both queen and king.

The daughter of nobles, she initially rose to the traditional role of queen after marrying the pharaoh Tuthmose II, her half-brother.

After his death around 1479 B.C., she declared herself a pharaoh, ruling as co-king with her young stepson.

In time, she came to be recognized as a fully male ruler, depicted in statues and wall carvings with a beard and a bare chest without breasts.

Hatshepsut is credited with overseeing many ambitious construction projects and expanding trade in the region during her reign. She ruled for 21 years until her death in 1458 B.C.

The key to Hatshepsut's identity was discovered in this wooden box, originally unearthed in a separate tomb in 1881.

The box is inscribed with Hatshepsut's name and contains the mummified organs of the pharaoh queen.

While conducting a CT scan of the box and its contents, scientists discovered a broken molar, which experts believe was placed there after the tooth was dislodged during the mummification process.

By matching the molar with a tooth socket in the mummy's jaw, archaeologists were able to determine that the mummy was that of Hatshepsut.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief, looks at a mummy identified as Hatshepsut before a news conference at Cairo's Egyptian Museum on June 27, 2007.

Hawass' team conducted forensic and DNA tests on the mummy to conclude that it was Egypt's "lost queen."

The discovery makes Hatshepsut the first ancient Egyptian ruler to be positively identified since King Tutankhamun was excavated by Howard Carter in 1922, archaeologists told the New York Times.


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