A pair of mummified knees on display in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, belongs to Egyptian Queen Nefertari, the favorite wife of Pharaoh Ramesses II, according to a research team led by University of Zurich scientist Prof. Frank Rühli.
“Queen Nefertari, the second Great Royal Wife of King Ramesses II (lifetime ca. 1303–1213 BC), is famous for her beautifully decorated tomb,” Prof. Rühli and co-authors said.
“The tomb was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli (1856–1928) in the Valley of the Queens in 1904. The burial had been looted in antiquity.”
“Besides the famous wall paintings, a series of broken remains (e.g. a damaged pink granite sarcophagus, broken furniture, jars, shabtis, other various small items), a pair of sandals and two fragmented mummified legs (parts of tibiae and femora) are preserved.”
“All these items and the human remains are currently housed in the Egyptian Museum in Turin.”
But as the legs had never been scientifically investigated, it was decided to undertake the new study to find out if the legs could actually represent all that remained of one of Egypt’s most legendary queens.
Prof. Rühli and his colleagues from Switzerland, Italy, France, UK and Australia used radiocarbon dating, anthropology, paleopathology, genetics and chemical analysis to identify the remains.
The study revealed that the legs are those of an adult woman of about 40 years of age.
From the size and proportion of the knees, the most likely body height of the female was determined to be 5.4 feet (1.65 m).
The chemical analysis established that the materials used to embalm the legs are consistent with 13th century BC mummification traditions.
The authors conclude that ‘the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari.’
“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,” said co-author Prof. Joann Fletcher, from the University of York.
“We 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.”
The team’s findings were published onli