Historic Egypt: Ruler from 3,500 Years Ago Captured, Mutilated, and Executed in River Animal Dispute.

 

A pharaoh who ruled southern Egypt 3,576 years ago was captured in battle against a foreign dynasty from the north and brutally executed, a study reveals.

Experts from Egypt CT-scanned the mummy of pharaoh Seqenenre Tao, known as ‘the Brave’, and revealed new details about the injuries that led to his death.

He appeared to have been 𝓀𝒾𝓁𝓁ed by at least five assailants, each wielding a different weapon, while his hands were bound behind his back.

It is thought he met his grisly end after losing a battle between his army from Thebes and the Hyksos foes of the north, ruled by Apophis.

The source of the quarrel, according to legend, is that Apophis wanted to cull the noisy hippopotamuses which lived in Thebes because they were disturbing his sleep with their roars.

The mummy of Seqenenre-Taa-II (pictured) was the subject of a new study which tried to determine how the pharaoh died. Head injuries that were hidden by embalmers and suggests he was 𝓀𝒾𝓁𝓁ed in his forties in the 16th century BC while fighting the Hkysos invaders

Experts from Egypt CT-scanned the mummy of Seqenenre Tao, known as ‘the Brave’, and revealed new details about the injuries that led to his death. Several assailants attacked him and inflicted fatal blows to his head with bladed weapons.Pictured, a scan of the mummy’s skull

Experts say the king appeared to have been 𝓀𝒾𝓁𝓁ed by at least five assailants, each wielding a different weapon, while his hands were bound behind his back

Pictured, a CT scan of the skull of the ancient Egyptian mummy of King Seqenenre-Taa-II. Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities say the new study with computerized tomography (CT) scans shows the king suffered several severe head injuries

PHARAOH SEQENENRE TOA

Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao ‘the Brave’ ruled over the southern, Theban region of Egypt from around 1560–1555 BC, during the so-called Seventeenth Dynasty.

At this time, lower and middle Egypt was occupied by the Hyksos — a dynasty of Palestinian origin who ruled from the city of Avaris in the Nile delta.

Seqenenre fathered two pharaohs — Kamose, his immediate successor, and Ahmose I, who ruled following a regency by his mother.

In written tradition, the Hyksos king Apepi (or Apophis) is said to have sent Seqenenre a message that the noise coming from the the hippopotamus pool in Thebes was so loud that Apepi was unable to sleep in far-north Avaris.

The Theban king was known for his active diplomatic posturing — which appears to have led to all-out skirmishes in which he played an active and ultimately fatal role.

While Seqenenre and Kamose may have died in his fight to reunify ancient Egypt and repel the forces occupying the north, their sacrifice was not in vain.

Picking up where his father and brother left off, Ahmose I succeeding in capturing the city of Avaris 18–19 years in his reign.

Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao ruled over the southern, Theban region of Egypt from around 1560–1555 BC, during the Seventeenth Dynasty.

At this time, lower and middle Egypt was occupied by the Hyksos — a dynasty of Palestinian origin who ruled from the city of Avaris in the Nile delta.

It is thought the hippo saga led to a large battle in which Seqenenre attempted to unify his country, but his plans ended in tragedy when he was captured and murdered in the ensuing melee.

However, his sacrifice was not in vain as his son, Ahmose I, succeeded in capturing the city of Avaris  — the headquarters of the people who 𝓀𝒾𝓁𝓁ed his father — 18–19 years into his own reign, avenging his loss.

Seqenenre’s mummy was discovered by archaeologists in a tomb complex known as Deir el-Bahri, within the Theban necropolis, back in 1881.

The manner of his death has been a subject of debate ever since, as visual inspections and an X-ray examination back in the late 1960s all indicated that the pharaoh had suffered a number of severe injuries to the head.

In contrast, the king’s body did not appear to have sustained any wounds at all, while the mummy’s generally poor condition had suggested that Seqenenre had been embalmed hastily, outside of the royal mummification workshop.

In fact, experts have argued that Seqenenre’s remains represent the worst preserved of all the royal mummies held in the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

Egyptologists James Harris and Kent Weeks, who performed a forensic examination of Seqenenre in the 1960s, said that a ‘foul, oily smell filled the room the moment the case in which his body was exhibited was opened’.

This odour was attributed to bodily fluids having been accidentally left in the mummy at the time of burial.

A number of theories have been put forward to account for these findings, including that he was murdered in his sleep amid a palace intrigue, or that he was captured in battle and then executed, perhaps by the Hyksos king himself.

It is thought Seqenenre Tao (pictured) met his grisly end after losing a battle between his army from Thebes and the Hyksos foes of the north, ruled by Apophis. The source of the quarrel, according to legend, is that Apophis wanted to cull the noisy hippopotamuses which lived in Thebes because they were disturbing his sleep with their roars

Egyptologists who performed a forensic examination of Seqenenre in the 1960s, said that a ‘foul, oily smell filled the room the moment the case in which his body was exhibited was opened.’ This odour was attributed to bodily fluids having been accidentally left in the mummy at the time of burial

A pharaoh who ruled southern Egypt 3,576 years ago was captured in battle against a foreign dynasty occupying the north and ceremonially executed, a study found. Pictured, palaeoradiologist Sahar Saleem of Cairo University poses with the mummy in the scanner

HOW DID EGYPTIANS EMBALM THEIR DEAD?

It is thought a range of chemicals were used to embalm and preserve the bodies of the dead in ancient cultures.

Russian scientists believe a different balm was used to preserve hair fashions of the time than the concoctions deployed on the rest of the body.

Hair was treated with a balm made of a combination of beef fat, castor oil, beeswax and pine gum and with a drop of aromatic pistachio oil as an optional extra.

Mummification in ancient Egypt involved removing the corpse’s internal organs, desiccating the body with a mixture of salts, and then wrapping it in cloth soaked in a balm of plant extracts, oils, and resins.

Older mummies are believed to have been naturally preserved by burying them in dry desert sand and were not chemically treated.

Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) techniques have been deployed in recent years in find out more about the ancient embalming process.

Studies have found bodies were embalmed with: a plant oil, such as sesame oil; phenolic acids, probably from an aromatic plant extract; and polysaccharide sugars from plants.

The recipe also featured dehydroabietic acid and other diterpenoids from conifer resin.

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