A 3,500-year-old mystery apparently solved. The mystery - what happened to Queen Hatshepsut?
You may never have heard of her, but in the 15th century B.C., she was about as big a deal as there was on Earth - Queen of the Nile, as powerful as King Tut was in his day. But no one could find her mummified body - until now.
“I can say that this is the most important discovery after the discovery of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings,” explained Zahi Hawass, supreme council of Antiquities.
Hawass, Egypt’s chief archeologist led the search for Hatshepsut. He ordered x-rays and computer scans of several unidentified mummies.
“The search for the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut may be one of the most interesting things I ever did,” Hawass explained.
Egypt’s rulers were entombed in great splendor, but much to the frustration of archeologists - the bodies were often moved, presumably to protect them from grave robbers. Hatshepsut’s name was also gone from most hieroglyphs. She may have become so powerful that her successor tried to wipe out any record that she ruled as firmly as any man.
“She had dropped all of her queen’s titles and adopted all of the titles of a king. So I prefer to call her a king or a pharaoh, because that’s what she was,” explained Catharine Roehrig, with the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
The trail seemed cold, but then researchers scanned a small wooden box with the queen’s name on it. Inside, among other things, they found a broken back tooth. It matched the jaw of one mummy.
“She was not that pretty, but she looks very strong,” Hawass said.
The mummy was of a heavyset woman, probably in her 50s. She appears to have died of bone cancer. And 35 centuries later, she still commands the world’s attention.