Study: 3,200-yo Set of Mummified Legs Belonged to Queen Nefertari
Archaeologists said a pair of mummified legs discovered in a tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens over a century ago belong to Queen Nefertari, Pharaoh Ramses the Great's favorite partner.
Believed to have died around 1,250BC, Nefertari was known for her beauty. Although the site of her burial was plundered centuries ago, many items were recovered during her tomb’s excavation.
Among the objects discovered were a pair of mummified legs, which were taken to the Egyptian Museum in Turin by Italian archaeologists who came across the tomb of the Queen in 1904.
It was assumed they belonged to the Queen, but it remained unclear until now.
A study published in the journal PlosOne states that the legs did in fact belong to Nefertari after researchers carried out a range of tests on the objects.
Egyptologist Joann Fletcher, who works at the University of York and was a co-author of the report, told NPR there were many reasons people had felt skeptical about who the legs belonged to.
“We know certainly in the Valley of the Queens, from previous work we’ve done that individuals were often buried in earlier tombs,” she said. “We had no way of knowing if these were Nefertari’s remains or not. They could have been washed into the tomb at a later date during one of these occasional flash floods that do occur in that part of Egypt.”
Tests carried out by the team of researchers included radiocarbon dating, genetic studies, paleopathology and other chemical tests.
In their conclusion, the team found that the legs belonged to a female of around 40-years-old at the time she died, which was the estimated age of Nefertari when she is thought to have died, according to Fletcher.
“They’d been mummified to a very high standard using the most costly of ingredients,” Fletcher said. “Very careful wrappings, a lot of attention to detail.”
The tests appeared to show that the legs belonged to an individual of around 5 feet 5 inches tall and ornate sandals also found in the tomb were made for someone of the same height.
According to Fletcher, a likely explanation would be that Nefertari’s mummy was torn apart by grave robbers looking for gold and valuables before they could be stopped by guards.
“You do get that feeling that there’s a real degree of ripping apart human remains to get the wealth,” she added.