London: A pair of mummified legs have been identified to be the remains of the Queen Nefertari – the favourite wife of the pharaoh Ramses II who reigned Egypt in the 13th Century BC – scientists say.
Researchers including Stephen Buckley and Joann Fletcher from the University of York in the UK 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 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 legs which could have been part of a later interment as was often the case in other tombs in the region. However, as the legs had never been scientifically studied, 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 showed that the legs are those of an adult woman of about 40-years-of-age. 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.
“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,” Fletcher said. The study was published in the journal Plos One.