Royal Mummies Get Identity Checks.

Friday, July 13, 2007

NEW YORK: All of Egypt's royal mummies will get identity checks after scientists found one was wrongly identified as a Pharaoh, the chief Egyptian archaeologist said.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, said he would use computed tomography, or CT scanning, and DNA to test more than 40 royal mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

In June, the mummy long thought to have been King Tuthmosis I was found to be a young man who died from an arrow wound, Hawass said. History showed Tuthmosis I died in his 60s.

"I am now questioning all the mummies," he said. "We have to check them all again. The new technology now will reconfirm or identify anything for us."

The Egyptian Museum has had CT scanning equipment for just two years and its first DNA laboratory was installed in April.

The CT scan allows the mummies to be virtually "unwrapped" without damaging them. The teenage Pharaoh Tutankhamun was one of the first mummies to be examined with the technology in 2005.

Hawass said only the identity of the mummy of Tutankhamun was certain because he was discovered by the British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 still in a sealed coffin in his tomb.

Many royal mummies were taken from their tombs and hidden elsewhere to protect them from desecration and looting.

Last week, Hawass said the ancient mummy of Tuthmosis I's daughter, Queen Hatshepsut, had been identified and it was found she had been a fat woman in her 50s, with diabetes and rotten teeth, who died of bone cancer. Her DNA had also been matched to Ahmose Nefertari, whom Hawass described as Hatshepsut's grandmother.

"We will have to look for the mummy of the father now," said Hawass, who was in New York promoting a Discovery Channel series that has followed his journey to identify Hatshepsut.

Herald Tribune

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