Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The mummy of a 3,600-year-old pharaoh finally reveals its secrets – Ouest-France evening edition


By Julie-Solveig SAINT-GERMES

For the first time, Egyptian scientists were able to establish the circumstances of the death of Seqenenrê Tâa II, thanks to his mummy, which was X-rayed. This pharaoh reigned over Egypt nearly 1,600 years before our era.

140 years old. This is how long it took for the mummy of Pharaoh Seqenenrê Tâa II, known to have led Egyptian troops against the Asian invaders Hyksos around 1,550 years before Jesus Christ, finally reveals a good part of his secrets .

X-rayed, this mummy discovered at the end of the XIXe century has indeed just enabled Egyptian scientists to establish precisely the circumstances of the death of this pharaoh nicknamed “the Courageous”.

Accurately estimated age of death

In their study published Wednesday, February 17 in the journal Frontiers of Medicine , the scientists explain having used the technique of computed tomography, itself based on the X-ray technique, in order to model in 2D and 3D the precise images of the pharaoh’s wounds.

Image of the skull of Pharaoh Seqenenrê Tâa II, February 17, 2021 (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities / AFP)

For decades the 3,600-year-old mummy of Seqenenrê Tâa II gave researchers a hard time. Discovered in 1880 and kept in Cairo, this archaeological remains, with its visible marks of injuries to the face, has in fact never ceased to intrigue scientists, who have also been working since the 1960s to examine it. via medical imaging.

How did Seqenenrê Tâa II die? Was he murdered? How to explain the multiple wounds with which his remains are marked?

Thanks to X-rays, Egyptian scientists were finally able to answer many questions about his death. Thus, after a careful study of its skeleton, the age of the pharaoh was established: “He was 40 years old at the time of his death. “

Prisoner on the battlefield

Then relying on the obtained three-dimensional images, the study conducted by archaeologist Zahi Hawass and radiology professor at Cairo University Sahar Saleem also suggests that the pharaoh was killed by his opponents during a “Execution ceremony”, after being taken prisoner on the battlefield.

The precise examination of the injuries shows that the pharaoh’s hands were tied behind his back, preventing him from protecting himself, and that five different weapons caused them.

“In a normal execution on a tied up prisoner, one might assume that a single assailant strikes, perhaps from different angles but not with different weapons”, notes Sahar Saleem in this regard.

The analysis of weapons (ax, lance and daggers) that belonged to the Hyksos also indicated their “Injury compatibility” of the mummy. New contusions, hitherto concealed by the meticulous work of embalmers, have also been discovered.

“He was on the front line”

But then, how to explain this “ceremonial execution”? According to the study’s authors, cited by Futura-Sciences , “His status but above all the war he was waging against the Hyksos” are probably at the origin of such a “ceremony”. “This dynasty ruled Lower Egypt for a century, approximately between -1650 and -1550 BC, leaving only Upper Egypt to Seqenenrê Tâa II and his predecessors. The latter did not hear it that way, claiming his sovereignty over the whole of Egypt. Nicknamed “the Courageous”, he would have lost his life in his final battle against the Hyksos. “

Such discoveries also suggest that “Seqenenrê Tâa II was on the front line, with his soldiers, risking his life to liberate Egypt”, Sahar Saleem notes. As for his facial injuries, the study authors believe it was a way for his opponents to “Dishonor”.

Note that according to other theories, the pharaoh was killed by the king of the Hyksos himself or else murdered in his sleep by conspirators.



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