The remains of the beautiful Nefertari
The outstanding Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli found the famous tomb of Queen Nefertari in 1904. Nefertari, whose name translates as “The Most Beautiful”, was the favorite main spouse of Ramses II, one of the most prominent rulers of Egypt, who ruled in the 13th century. BC. After the royal couple left the majestic monuments, among which the rock complexes in Abu Simbel became especially famous. However, among the many thousands of monuments, the tomb of Nefertari, located in the Valley of the Queens at the foot of the Theban cliffs in Luxor, occupies a special place. This is a genuine masterpiece: 520 sq. M. The walls of the tomb are covered with unsurpassed painted reliefs telling about the journey of the deceased queen to the beyond-bound areas of another world, according to the text of the Book of the Dead.
Fragments of the embalmed feet of Queen Nefertari. Turin, Egyptian Museum.
Alas, the tomb was ransacked in antiquity, but many items from the devastated Skyaparelli burial were still found. Today, they are all kept in the special hall of Queen Nefertari in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, which, by the way, is second only to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in terms of volume and significance of its collection.
Among the fragments of the cover of a granite sarcophagus, fragments of burial utensils and jewelry were found fragments of a female mummy – perfectly embalmed legs. For a long time the question of whether they were part of the mummy of his beloved wife Ramses II was open. A special study undertaken in Turin showed that this was all that remained of the beautiful Nefertari.
Tests confirmed the dating of embalmed legs; tomographic and chemical studies of the remains were first carried out; The results obtained were compared with the results of studies of the remains of other members of the Ramses II family. As a result, it became clear that we are talking about the part of the mummy of the woman of contemporary Ramses II, who at the time of death was from 40 to 50 years old; The body was embalmed with the use of the most expensive ingredients according to the technology, which was used only for members of the royal family and the most senior nobles.
It remains only to regret that this is all that remains of one of the most famous beauties of antiquity. The skull is lost, the reconstruction of the face is impossible – which means that we will continue to judge her appearance only by paintings and faces of the statues. Nefertari became the object of intense interest this year not only in Italy and Egypt, but also in Russia. A group of specialists of architectural 3D-reconstruction Scionik under the leadership of Andrei Plaksin presented a unique scientific reconstruction of the most famous tomb of the queen, in which, based on a painstaking study of early photographs of the tomb and art of this time, fragments of decoration were already lost. The model has no analogues in the world and received the highest rating from the Ministry of Antiquities of Egypt.
Another significant project of this year, which caused a great resonance, was also associated with mummies. Egyptian, Professor Sahar Salem studied the remains of kings and queens, which are stored in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, preparing a large publication on the ancient methods of embalming. In particular, the mummy of Ramses III, an outstanding ruler of the 12th century, fell into her hands. BC. He went down in history not only as a builder of several grandiose temples, but also as a successful commander who defended Egypt during the invasion of the “sea nations” – the inhabitants of the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, who were looking for mining in the East.
The king died as a result of a palace plot – experts knew about this for a long time from the texts of several legal papyrus. One of them spoke about the women of the royal harem, who persuaded the nobles to destroy the king. At the head of the conspiracy were one of the wives of Ramesses, Queen Taye and her son Pentaur. First, the king was tormented by witchcraft, and then, not having achieved the result, they resorted to some other method, as a result of which Ramses III died. According to the results of the court court, the conspirator-queen and her son were immured alive; other conspirators were sent to gold mines. However, the cause of the death of the king still remained unexplained.
As a result of a detailed analysis of the mummy of Ramses III, it became clear for the first time how the king was killed. One of the conspirators cut off his battle-ax with a big toe; when the king fell, his throat was cut with something very sharp, most likely an obsidian blade. The wound on the throat was terrible: even the inner side of the royal spine suffered from the blade. During the mummification, the head of the deceased lord was carefully wrapped in swaddles to his body, covering the wound with magical amulets.
In addition to the established cause of death, as a result of the work, much was learned about how the kings embalmed; In particular, it turned out that in order to preserve the face and volume of the legs and hands, dehydrated by natron, a natural mixture of soda and salt, the embalmers placed special bags of fragrant herbs under the skin.