The murder of Pharaoh Ramesses III was a gruesome affair.New research on the royal mummy reveals the pharaoh was assassinated by multiple assailants at once, coming at him from all sides with different weapons.In addition to having his throat slit, advanced imaging techniques have revealed the pharaoh’s big toe was cut off.And the injury may have been deliberately kept secret by Egyptian embalmers.
A new book by Egyptologist Zahi Hawass and Cairo University radiologist Sahar Saleem called ‘Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies’ describes the recent findings.Using computed tomography (CT) scanning, the team was able to find new evidence linked to an ancient plot to kill Ramesses III.
Earlier research led the team to discover the cause of Ramesses III’s death – a cut to the throat with a sharp knife, severing his trachea and esophagus.This would have killed him instantly.The team has now found that the pharaoh sustained injuries from different types of weapons around the time of his death, revealing that more than one attacker was involved.
Ramesees III’s big toe was likely chopped off with an axe, Sahar Saleem, which can be determined based on the shape of his fractured toe bones.As this wound is anatomically distant from the killing strike, and was inflicted with a different weapon, the researcher explained there must have been another assailant.
While one attacked at the front with an axe or sword, another attacked from the back, using a knife or dagger.And, it’s likely embalmers attempted to mask the damage to the murdered pharaoh’s toe.Attempts at unwrapping the mummy in the late 1800s could not uncover the feet, which were bound in thick layers of resin-covered bandages.
The body was also ‘plumped’ with packing materials under the skin to beautify him for the afterlife.The New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramesses III held reign over Egypt from 1186 to 1155 B.C.Ancient documents reveal that one of his wives, Tiye, meant to have him assassinated in order to get her son Pentawere onto the throne.
Pentawere was second to his half-brother Amun-her-khepeshef, but in a plot that involved servants, administrators, and other members of the royal household, Tiye plotted to kill Ramesses III and overthrow his successor to name Pentawere pharaoh.The pharaoh was killed, but the conspirators were brought to trial for his murder, and all – including Tiye and Pentawere – were executed.
When appointed pharaoh, Amun-her-khepeshef became Ramesses IV.While the papyrus documents detail the plans on Pharaoh Ramesses III’s assassination, there was no evidence of its success until the 2012 CT scans revealed his throat had been slit.Using these techniques, the team has examined royal mummies from the 18th to 20th dynasties, dating back to 1543 B.C. to 1064 B.C.