Mummy of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti Found

Nefertiti was known as the ?Great Royal Wife? of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who tried to radically change Egyptian culture by introducing the worship of a single God. Now Egyptologist Susan James claims to have found Nefertiti?s mummy, catalogued under the name of ?mummy 61070? in the British Museum. The mummy, nicknamed ?Elder Woman? was discovered in 1898 by the French archeologist Vicor Loret lying unwrapped on the floor in a side room off Akhenaten?s burial chamber, along with 2 other mummies, a boy and a girl.

Hair analysis done at the time led scientists to identify it as Queen Tiye, Tutankhamen?s probable grandmother. But historical data show that Queen Tiye would have been over 40 when she died, and a dental study of the Elder Woman shows that she died around age 29, which was about the age of Nefertiti when she died around 1336 BC.

If this is really the legendary beauty Nefertiti, we now know she was 4 foot 8 inches tall, had long luxurious wavy hair, a long neck and fine features. The mummy bears a striking resemblance to the portrait heads of Nefertiti, including the famous limestone bust that is on display at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. The relative narrowness of the mummy?s skull closely matches that bust and the groove between the nose and upper lip is very pronounced on both the bust and the Elder Woman mummy.

?These are interesting similarities,? says Francesco Mallegni, an anthropologist at Pisa University in Italy who has reconstructed many famous historical faces. ?It would be fascinating to reconstruct the mummy face with forensic techniques and then match it with Nefertiti?s known portraits.?

But John Taylor, an Egyptologist at the British Museum, is skeptical. ?It is very dangerous to treat sculpted images as reliable evidence in a study such as this. Egyptian human images can range from the idealistic to the naturalistic, but to what extent naturalistic images are ?portraits? is a moot point.?

According to Renate Germer of Hamburg University, ??The forensic reconstruction seems to be the only approach possible at the moment: James? combined pictures of Nefertiti and the mummy really look convincing. Unfortunately, there are no possibilities to prove the Elder Lady as Nefertiti by DNA, as she is not the mother of Tutankhamun and we don?t have mummies of her parents.?

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