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The Discovery of a Lifetime: Queen Hatshepsut's Mummy

The Discovery of a Lifetime: Queen Hatshepsut’s Mummy

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The discovery of the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut, the greatest queen of the ancient world, is one of the most important findings of my lifetime. In actuality, it had been an interesting adventure that lasted over a year. I never imagined that I would find Hatshepsut’s mummy that revealed many secrets of the Pharaonic civilization.

The journey began over a year ago when the US-based Discovery Channel offered to make a documentary on Queen Hatshepsut, for which I began preparing. I went to KV-20, Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor. It is one of the oldest tombs built in the quiet valley. I believed that no archeologist had entered the tomb after Howard Carter had discovered it in 1903. It is approximately 219 meters long and it is cut deep into the mountain rock. Descending into this tomb is extremely dangerous and difficult for anybody who ventures into the uniquely designed tomb and its dangerous corridors.

Inside the burial chamber of KV-20, a sarcophagus of Queen Hatshepsut was discovered that is now in the Egyptian museum, along with the remains of Canopic jars, where internal organs were kept, and pieces of limestone inscribed with texts from the Amduat [Book of the Underworld].

Having visited the queen’s tomb, I went to the Royal Mummy Cache at Al Deir al Bahari, which is close to the Valley of Kings. This cache, discovered by the famous Abdel Rassoul family in 1881, consisted of 40 Pharaonic mummies, two anonymous female mummies from the royal family, in addition to a wooden box that was inscribed with Hatshepsut’s name and contained her liver that was placed there during mummification.

Initially, I thought that one of these two mummies could be that of Queen Hatshepsut. Therefore, I subjected the two mummies to CT scans and it turned out that one of them had been killed as the mouth is open.

The secret was awaiting us in KV-60, which lies directly beneath KV-20. It was also discovered by Howard Carter who in 1907 moved a mummy from this tomb that was inside a wooden box bearing the last two letters of the name of Hatshepsut’s wet nurse known as Sitre. I searched for this mummy in the Egyptian Museum and found it on the third floor. We found that the mummification process had been conducted according to the royal method, which led me to believe that this could have been the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut. It was the starting point of the search for the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut, who is considered one of the greatest queens of ancient Egypt.

Hatshepsut had constructed a number of the most magnificent religious and mortuary architecture; her temple at Al Deir al Bahari is just one example. The most important figures in her life are the architect Senenmut, who constructed Al Deir al Bahari temple – perhaps the unknown lover of the queen as she was keen to be buried near his temple, her own wet nurse, and her daughter Princess Neferure. To be continued…

The Discovery of a Lifetime: Queen Hatshepsut's Mummy

The Discovery of a Lifetime: Queen Hatshepsut’s Mummy