Mummy Monday: Ramesses V

This week let’s take a look at another royal from the 20th Dynasty. Meet Pharaoh Ramesses V!

Life

Usermaatre Sekheperenre Ramesses V was born c. 1110 B.C.E. to Pharaoh Ramesses IV and his wife Duatentopet. Very little is known about his early life. He did have a chief wife named Tahenutwati and another wife named Taweretenro. We know he did not have a son to succeed him, but it is unclear if he had any children.

Reign

Here are his royal names:

  • Horus name: Kanakht Menmaat
  • Golden Falcon name: Userrenputmiatum
  • Prenomen: Usermaatre-sekheperenre
  • Nomen: Ramesses (Amunherkhepeshef)

Ramesses V rose to the throne after the death of his father around 1149 B.C.E. His reign was the continued growth of the power of the priesthood of Amun. They controlled much of the land of country and state finances. Multiple papyri date to his reign that describes some political turmoil.

The Turin 1887 papyrus records a financial scandal involving the temple priests of Elephantine. The Turin 2044 papyrus recorded that the workmen of Deir el-Medina stopped working on Ramesses V’s tomb in his first regnal year. This may be because of fear of Libyan raiding parties which were close to Thebes. And finally, the Wilbour Papyrus records a major land survey and tax assessment which reveals that most of the land was controlled by the Amun Temple.

Besides all these problems, Ramesses V’s reign wasn’t that eventful. He continued to build his father’s temple in Deir el-Bahri, possibly usurping it in the end. And he built himself a tomb, KV9. He only reigned for four years, until about 1145 B.C.E.

Death and Tomb

The circumstances of his death are unknown, but there are multiple theories. The strongest is that Ramesses V died of smallpox because of the lesions on his face. He is thought to be one of the earliest known victims of the disease. He was succeeded (and possibly deposed) by his uncle Ramesses VI.

You can read more about his small pox in these two articles below!

He was buried in Year 2 of Ramesses VI, which was highly irregular as most pharaohs should be buried precisely 70 days into the reign of the successor. This might be because Ramesses VI was expelling Libyans from Thebes. Possibly, he has made a temporary tomb until KV9 was done.

Although KV9 was originally made for Ramesses V, it was severely edited by Ramesses VI and they were presumably buried together. I talked all about the tomb when I covered Ramesses VI, which you can check out here!

Mummy

The mummy of Ramesses V (CG61085/JE34566) was found in 1898 in the Valley of the Kings cache in Amenhotep II’s tomb, KV35. It was found in side chamber Jb (position 6). He was found in the base of a large rectangular white coffin (CG61042). No lid was found with this coffin which was not the original coffin of the king. There are no inscriptions on this coffin that would indicate the original owner.

A shroud was found over a tangle of linens and then the body, which had been robbed in antiquity. Some of the bandages have been burnt by a corrosive agent, which may have been a result of a chemical reaction from the organic substances used during the embalming and funerary rituals.

His body was very well preserved and was unwrapped on June 25th, 1905. He was anywhere from 20 to 35 years old. His face was painted red and his earlobes were greatly stretched out, indicating that he wore large earrings. His skull was packed with 9 meters of linen through the right nostril which was then plugged with wax. There is a particularly wide gash on his side shows where the embalming was done. His organs were removed and then placed back in his abdomen.

The thieves that originally robbed the tomb did not do much damage to the mummy itself, although they did chop off some of the fingertips of his left hand, probably to get some rings.

There is also a hole in the parietal bone of the skull, which has been found on the mummies of Merenptah, Seti II, Ramesses IV, and Ramesses VI. His wound is a little different from these though. The scalp had actually been rolled back by the opening. This probably occurred just before or immediately after death as antemortem dried blood may have caused the discoloration of the area.

Another theory of his death is bubonic plague because of a possible bubo, an ulcer-like lesion, on his right groin.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramesses_V

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ramses-V

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Ramesses_V

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/chronology/ramsesv.html

https://members.tripod.com/anubis4_2000/mummypages2/20A.htm#Ramesses%20V

http://www.historyembalmed.org/egyptian-pharaohs/ramses-v.htm

Image Sources

Obelisk in the Archaeological Museum of Bologna (KS 1884) – Wikimedia Commons (Khruner)

Mummified head – Wikimedia Commons (G. Elliot Smith)

Mummy – The Theban Royal Mummy Project

Mummy Monday: Unknown Man E

This Mummy Monday let’s talk about another mummy found in the Deir el Bahri cache, Unknown Man E. The identity of this mummy is not known, though there are a couple of theories. The most prominent theory is that this mummy is a Prince from the New Kingdom, who may have been involved and tried in a harem conspiracy.

Because we are not entirely sure who this mummy was, I am going to talk about the mummy first and then the theories as to who this mummy may be!

Coffin

The mummy was buried in a white simple Osiriform coffin (CG 61023) that was completely undecorated or labeled. It lacked any features to help date the coffin or identify the owner. The crossed arms on the coffin were popular in the 19th dynasty and onward, but the simple headdress dates to the earlier 18th dynasty. It was made out of expensive cedar wood, indicating whoever owned it was well off. The coffin and the mummy had seemingly not been rifled through by thieves.

Besides the mummy, two canes were found in the coffin. They were made out of braided reeds. Egyptologist Geoffrey Martin noted that the treasurer of Tutankhamun, a man named Maya, had been depicted in his tomb with two canes. Unfortunately, the canes current location has not been found.

Mummy

As I mentioned this mummy was found in the Dier el-Bahri cache (DB 320), which we have talked about several times. I’ve already posted about Nodjmet and Seqenrene Tao, who were also found in this cache.

Discovery of DB 320

The mummy we are focusing on has been labeled as Unknown Man E (CG 61098). He was about 18 to 24 years old at the time of his death. After the discovery of the cache in 1881, the mummy was transported back to Cairo where it was first unwrapped on June 6, 1886, by Gaston Maspero.

The first thing that everyone notices about the mummy is the internal scream that the face is locked in. This mummy has often been referred to as “The Screaming Mummy.” Unfortunately, this has led a few Egyptologists to assume he died a painful death, but more on that later.

The body was found wrapped in sheepskin, which for the Egyptians was a ritually unclean object. The sheepskin still has some of the original white wool attached. Beneath this were layers of thick linen, dating to the 18th dynasty, and a layer of natron salts which were applied to the final layers of the bandages. This natron had absorbed fat from the body and emitted a strong putrid odor when unwrapped. The bandages that covered that layer were impregnated with an adhesive and could only be removed with a saw, which would have destroyed any inscriptions that were on the bandages (if there were any).

It was originally believed that his hands and feet were found bound, but this could have been misinterpreted. Apparently, the bandages were held in place around the upper wrists and lower legs with knotted lengths of linen. They were tied extremely tightly because they left a definitive imprint on the skin on the upper arms. There is the possibility that the arms and legs were tied down because rigor mortis, or the stiffening of the joints and muscles of a body a few hours after death, had already set in by the time the body was mummified.

Underneath this layer was a coating of natron salt, crushed resin, and lime, which most likely consisted of calcium oxide. This was applied directly to the skin, covered the whole body, and was extremely caustic. After this was removed by Maspero and his team, they found the body of the young man. They noted that the muscles of his abdomen were extremely constricted and that his organs were still inside his body, going against all Egyptian mummification traditions. His penis was still intact but was missing when G.E. Smith examined the mummy a quarter-century later.

Gold earrings were found in his pierced ears. They were in the shape of hollow tubes “tapered at both ends and bent back to form an ellipse.” Like the canes found in the coffin, the earrings’ current location cannot be found.

Check out this image to the right and this video below to see a possible reconstruction of the face of Unknown Man E. The video also features one of his missing earrings!

Theories About the Mummy’s Death

When examining the mummy, Maspero had been convinced that there was foul play.

“All those who saw him first hand thought that [he] looked as though he had been poisoned. The contraction of the abdomen and stomach, the desperate movement with which the head is thrown back, the expression of excruciating pain spread over the face hardly allow for any other explanation.”

CT image of Unknown Man E, showing the lower neck region and shoulder joints. The scapulae are shifted to the lateral side (as seen by the arrows) and the soft tissues are inflated because of gas formation (star).

Daniel Fouquet, a physician who examined the mummy, was convinced that the mummy had died of poison, stating,

“…the last convulsions of horrid agony can, after thousands of years, still be seen.”

This seems to be based on the constriction of the abdomen. But this may be a reaction to the preservative chemicals that were placed on his skin. That substance would have sucked out all the moisture from his skin, which then would have made his internal organs shrink and thus constrict the skin of the abdomen. But one fact that may support poison is that there was no food found in his stomach which could indicate that he vomited everything up after ingesting the poison.

CT image of the lower thoracic region of the Unknown Man E. Thorax is filled with air (stars) and appears to be inflated. Residue in the diaphragm and organs (arrows) are present in the dorsal side.

A chemist named Mathey said this,

“the wretched man must have been deliberately asphyxiated–most likely by being buried alive.”

The buried alive theory seems to have been mostly attributed to the bound hands and feet and the horrible scream on the face. This is a theory that many believed in the early 1800s and 1900s and from what I know, I don’t believe there is evidence of any Egyptian being buried alive.

Some have also posed that he was impaled because his perineum was found badly torn. But this was unlikely because his large intestine was found undamaged, so the anal injury must have been post-mortem.

G.E. Smith dismissed these previous theories, saying,

“a corpse that was dead of any complaint might fall into just such an attitude as this body has assumed.”

It has been assumed that many of the earlier theories of his death were simply based on the mummy’s facial expression. Several other mummies are locked into this silent scream, which can mostly be attributed to rigor mortis, lockjaw, or the mummification method.

Theories About the Mummy’s Identity

There is very little known about who this mummy was in life, but based on the mummification techniques, there are a few theories, though only one (besides the theory of Maya, Tutankhamun’s treasurer), has a named Egyptian attached to it. Although this is one of the first theories, I’m going to talk about it last.

One of the theories is that this mummy was the unnamed Hittite prince that was sent by his father to marry Ankhsenamun, the widow/sister of King Tutankhamun. According to preserved documents, this prince was murdered on the way to Egypt. But why wasn’t he sent back to the Hittites?

One of the more important pieces of evidence for the identity of this mummy lies in the sheepskin laid on top of the body. As I mentioned, sheepskins were seen as ritually unclean by the ancient Egyptians. By why would an Egyptian noble or a Hittite prince buried in Egypt be buried with a sheepskin? Some scholars have looked at a reference is the story of the Tale of Sinuhe. In this story, the pharaoh tries to convince Sinuhe, a former friend and confidant who has been living abroad, to return to Egypt. The king says,

“You shall not die in a foreign land…you shall not be placed in a sheepskin as they make your grave.”

This implies that placing a sheepskin over a body was a non-Egyptian tradition.

This led some scholars to believe that this mummy was an important Egyptian governor or dignitary who had died abroad, possibly in an Egyptian outpost in Palestine. They speculate that maybe he died in the desert while hunting and his body was not found immediately. This would attribute to the rigor mortis that had set in and made it difficult for his body to fit in the coffin. Then his body would have been prepared by non-Egyptian embalmers, which was why the mummification was not consistent with Egyptian traditions. The sheepskin, possibly an Asiatic burial tradition, and the use of the calcium oxide mixture on the skin, which points to a Greek influence, are the two foreign features. The official may have already had the coffin prepared (since he might have been in a location where cedar wood was more accessible), but it had not been painted or inscribed with the vital texts. So they sent the mummy and the body back to Egypt.

The Egyptian officials who received it may have noticed the sheepskin and found it offensive, so they just immediately buried the coffin. Based on the location in the DB cache, the mummy was probably originally buried in the Valley of the Kings or somewhere close by. This location is probably true no matter what the identity of the mummy is.

An Answer to His Identity?

Maspero was the first to propose that this was the mummy of Pentawer, a prince of the 20th dynasty involved in a harem conspiracy that led to the death of his father. Maspero determined that the contorted expression, the organs not being removed, the tightly bound wrappings, the taboo sheepskin, and the undecorated coffin were all done to stop this person from entering the afterlife.

Bob Brier examining Unknown Man E

This theory was revived by Egyptologist Bob Brier, who was able to examine the mummy after it hadn’t been seen for almost 100 years. He also concluded that it was most likely the body of Pentawer.

Bob Brier and Zahi Hawass examining Unknown Man E. The large bundle in front of the body may the sheepskin??

Most importantly, the DNA of Ramesses III (who funnily enough was also buried in the DB 320 cache) and Unknown Man E were compared. They both shared paternal Y-DNA haplogroup E1b1a and half of their DNA, which means that they were most likely father and son. Ramesses III had at least seven sons, most of which mummies have been found, so there is a small chance that this mummy could have been another one of his minor sons.

Zahi Hawass with the bodies of Unknown Man E and Ramesses III

You can check out this article by Zahi Hawass and others which studied the bodies of Ramesses III and Unknown Man E, thus helping connect them.

Who was Pentawer?

Pentawer, also known as Pentawere or Pentaweret, was the son of Pharaoh Ramesses III and his secondary wife Tiye (not related to the wife of Amenhotep III and mother of Akhenaten, also called Tiye). All we know of this prince comes from the documents related to the harem conspiracy.

Image of one of the reconstructions of Unknown Man E

Interestingly the actual name of the prince is not known; this was just the name that was given to him in the Judicial Papyrus of Turin. This papyrus contains the records of the harem plot that he might have been involved in.

Harem Plot

The Judicial Papyrus of Turin is a combination of papyri in the Egyptian Museum in Turin that all describe the trial of those accused on the harem plot to kill Ramesses III. These papyri were separated by a thief to sell them. Luckily when they separated it, they did not damage the text. Papyrus Rollin, Papyrus Varzy, Papyrus Lee, Papyrus Rifaud, and Papyrus Rifaud II are all included in this collection.

The Judicial Papyrus of Turin

According to the Judicial Papyrus of Turin, Pentawer’s mother Tiye may have initiated a harem conspiracy to assassinate the pharaoh and put her son on the throne, even though the next in line to the throne was the son of Tyti. This plot was unfortunately not foiled as Ramesses III was most likely assassinated by having his throat slit on the 15th day of the third month of Shemu in 1155 B.C.E. This was the day of the Beautiful Feast of the Valley, which caused quite a commotion in the palace and harem in Medinet Habu, which was to provide cover for the assassination. Pebekkamen, a court official and one of the main conspirators, received help from a butler named Mastesuria, the cattle overseer Panhayboni, overseer of the harem Panouk, and clerk of the harem Pendua.

Ramesses III in his harem. From the Medinet Habu Temple

It was once thought by Egyptologists that Ramesses III may have survived the attack, but recent CT scans on his mummy reveal a different story. His throat was cut so severely that it severed the trachea, esophagus, and hit his neck bones. This means it was probably immediately fatal. Check out this video about recent CT examinations that helped determine these new clues.

Mummy of Ramesses III, including the extra bandages around the fatal wound on his neck

But they were unable to put Pentawer on the throne because there were too many officials still loyal to Ramesses III and his heir Ramesses IV. The new king selected 12 magistrates to investigate and judge the cases across five trials. Accusations were brought up against Tiye, Pentawer, men in charge of the harem, women from the harem, and military and civil officials.

This is a translation from a portion of the Judicial Papyrus,

“Pentawere, to whom had been given that other name. He was brought in because he had been in collusion with Teye, his mother, when she had plotted the matters with the women of the harem concerning the making rebellion against his lord. He was placed before the butlers in order to be examined; they found him guilty; they left him where he was; he took his own life.”

Check out this link to an entire book about the Harem Conspiracy by Susan Redford and check out the article below to read the Judicial Papyrus of Turin.

Pentawer may have been an unfortunate pawn in this conspiracy. And since he was a noble, he may have been given the option of killing himself by poison to be spared the alternative. 28 people were executed, meaning that they burned alive and their ashes were strewn in the streets, which would ruin their chances for the afterlife. Others like Pentawer were given the choice to kill themselves, while others had their ears and noses cut off. The punishment for Queen Tiye is not included.

The likelihood that Unknown Man E was the Prince Pentawer has gained enough traction to be more than likely. But I do appreciate the thorough study of the mummification method which concluded that this was a foreign dignitary mummified abroad. I think a lot of the unique features of the mummification method could be attributed to that, which is why I question why they (mostly the calcium oxide mixture) would be used if this was the body of Pentawer.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentawer

https://archive.archaeology.org/0603/abstracts/mysteryman.html

https://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/UnknownManE/ManE.htm

https://www.livescience.com/61749-screaming-mummy-backstory.html

https://strangeremains.com/2015/08/23/a-pharaonic-murder-mystery-that-was-solved-with-forensic-analysis/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harem_conspiracy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_Papyrus_of_Turin

https://ib205.tripod.com/unknown_man.html

Image Sources

Mummy – Wikimedia Commons – G Elliot Smith

Hieroglyphs of his name – Wikipedia Article

Bob Brier with mummy, with Zahi Hawass, and drawing of the discovery of DB320 – Pat Remler

The mummy, reconstruction, and coffin – The Theban Royal Mummy Project

Mummy of Ramesses III – Wikimedia Commons – G Elliot Smith

Judicial Papyrus of Turin – Wikimedia Commons – Khruner

Hawass, Unknown Man E, and Ramesses III – http://ambassadors.net/archives/issue34/selected_studies3.htm

Coffin Image – https://blog.selket.de/tag/pentawer

Mummy Monday: Ramesses VI

Throughout Egyptian history, there were 11 pharaohs named Ramesses, all living during the New Kingdom. This week we are going to look at the mummy of Ramesses VI.

Life

Ramesses IV Nebmaatre-Meryamun was born Amenherkhepsehf (C) to Ramesses III and most likely queen Iset Ta-Hemdjert. This is suggested by the presence of his cartouches on the door jamb of her tomb in the Valley of the Queens. As a prince, he held the titles of royal scribe and cavalry general. He was the 5th pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty, after his older brother Ramesses IV son, Ramesses V died without a male heir.

His Great Royal Wife was Nubkhesbed and they had at least four children: princes Amenherkhepshef, Panebenkemyt, and Ramesses Itamun (future pharaoh Ramesses VII) and one princess Iset. His first son died before his father and was buried in KV13 and his daughter was appointed as God’s Wife of Amun.

He only reigned for about 8 years (1145 to 1137 B.C.E) which may have been quite turbulent. Ramesses IV stopped frequent raids by Libyan or Egyptian marauders in Upper Egypt. But Egypt lost control of its last strongholds in Canaan, which weakened Egypt’s economy and increased prices throughout the kingdom. The pharaoh’s power also waned during this period as the priesthood of Amun began to rise in power. This is when Ramesses VI appointed his daughter as a priestess of Amun in an attempt to reduce their power.

There are multiple statues of him, many of which he usurped from past rulers by engraving his name over theirs. These usurpations were most likely done because of the economic depression rather than a sign of antagonism against his predecessors. One statue that was well documented on the reverse of the Turin Papyrus Map was installed in the Temple of Hathor at Deir el-Medina. It was called “Lord of the Two Lands, Nebamaatre Meryamun, Son of Re, Lord of Crowns, Ramesses Amunherkhepesef Divine Ruler of Iunu, Beloved like Amun.” The statue was apparently made out of both painted wood and clay, showing the pharaoh wearing a golden loincloth, a crown of lapis lazuli and precious stones, a uraeus of gold, and sandals of electrum.

Ramesses VI died in his 40s, in the 8th or 9th year of his rule. He was succeeded by his son Ramesses VII Itamun. Besides his tomb (described below), it is also thought that he usurped his nephew’s mortuary temple in El-Assasif, Thebes (which was probably stolen from Ramesses IV). It was planned to nearly half the size of Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses II. But only the foundations were built at the death of Ramesses IV so it is unclear if it was ever completed.

Tomb

The outside of the Tomb

Now presumably because Ramesses VI was older when he rose to power, he chose to usurp his nephew’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV9. It is unclear if Ramesses V was first buried in this tomb and then moved, or if Ramesses VI buried his nephew somewhere else. Unlike his usurpation of his predecessors’ cult statues, this usurpation could have been because he did not hold his nephew in high regard. It was most likely completed in the 6th or 8th year of his reign.

Layout of KV9

The tomb is 104 meters or 341 feet long and has several chambers. The entrance of the tomb is decorated with a disk containing a scarab and an image of the ram-headed god Re between Isis and Nephthys. In the first corridor, there are images of Ramesses VI before Re-Horakhty and Osiris.

Ramesses VI worshipping Osiris above the entrance to the hallway

The Book of Gates is on the south wall while the Book of Caverns is on the north wall. These are both Ancient Egyptian funerary texts that would help the newly deceased soul into the afterlife. The Book of Gate describes several gates, each associated with different goddesses and required the deceased to recognize the particular character of the diety. The Book of Caverns is very similar, but it describes six caverns of the afterlife which are filled with rewards for the righteous and punishments for the bad.

The ceiling of the long hallway is decorated with an intricate astronomical ceiling. The Book of the Gates and the Book of Caverns continued on their respective walls. Above the entrance to the next corridor, the king is shown before Osiris. The second corridor is decorated with two more funerary texts: the Book of the Imi-Duat and the Books of Day and Night. Here Ramesses is shown before Hekau and Maat.

At the end, there is a hall and the burial chamber. Again, these are decorated with more funerary texts, mainly the Book of the Dead and the Book of the Earth (also known as the Book of Aker). Ramesses was buried in a large granite coffin box and mummiform stone sarcophagus in the center of the chamber.

Unfortunately, like many of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, it was looted in antiquity, most likely around 20 years after Ramesses VI was buried. They took everything and destroyed much of the sarcophagus and mummy. The mummy was removed from the tomb in the 21st Dynasty. Interestingly, the workers huts that were built for the construction of this tomb, obscured the entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamun, which may have been a reason that it was not seriously looted during this period.

Check out the tour of the tomb completely 3D tour of the tomb here and here! You can also see more images of the tomb decoration here.

In the Graeco-Roman Period, the tomb was identified as that of Memnon, the mythological king of the Ethiopians who fought in the Trojan War. This meant that it was frequently visited during this time. Visitors from the 1st century B.C.E. to the 4th century C.E. left approximately 995 pieces of graffiti. These were mostly in Greek, Latin, Demotic, and Coptic, and in black or red ink. Many of these were found higher up on the walls, indicating that the floor level was higher during this period. Since 1996, the graffiti has been studied by the Epigraphic Mission from the Polish Center of the Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw. Check out the article below to learn more!

The tomb was cleared by Georges Emile Jules Daressy in 1898. He uncovered the fragments of the coffin and sarcophagus. During this time, the face, and several other pieces, of the sarcophagus were taken by visitors. The face (EA140), which was taken by Giovani Belzoni, Italian strongman turned explorer, for Henry Salt, the British consulate in Cairo, is currently in the British Museum, and attempts to return it to Egypt have been futile.

In 1997, Egyptologist Edwin Brock received funding from the American Research Center in Egypt to restore the sarcophagus. They completed the work in three seasons reassembling the 370 broken pieces and a fiberglass replica of the mask. Much of the decoration of the coffin had been obscured by a black resinous layer which was most likely a ritualistic oil that was poured over the sarcophagus at the time of burial. The reassembled sarcophagus is currently on display inside the burial chamber.

Burial in Royal Cache

Now, like many of the royal mummies of the New Kingdom, the mummy of Ramesses VI was not found in KV9, but in KV35, also known as the Royal Cache. Here is an excerpt about this tomb that I wrote in an earlier post about Amenhotep III.

The priests of Amon in the 21st dynasty moved multiple mummies from the looted Valley of the King’s tombs to one specific tomb in the valley. This was the tomb of Amenhotep II, KV35. The mummy cache lay undiscovered until 1898. Here is a list of the other pharaohs found in this cache:

  • Thutmose IV
  • Merneptah
  • Seti II
  • Siptah
  • Amenhotep II
  • Amenhotep III
  • Ramesses IV
  • Ramesses V
  • Ramesses VI
  • Queen Tiye (originally labeled and the Elder Lady)
  • A prince (either Webensenu, child of Amenhotep II, or Thutmose, son of Amenhotep III)
  • The Younger Lady (mother of Tutankhamun, and daughter of Amenhotep and Tiye)
  • Unknown Lady D
  • Two skulls and an arm

The mummy of Ramesses VI (CG 61086/JE 34564) was found in side chamber Jb inside an 18th dynasty coffin (CG 61043) of a man named Re, who was a high priest of the mortuary cult of Menkheperre-Thutmose III. Ramesses VI’s name had been written over the original owner’s name. The face of the coffin had been hacked off in antiquity, possibly indicating that it had been gilded and thus taken by tomb robbers.

Mummy

When the mummy was unwrapped by G.E. Smith on July 8th, 1905, the body was found in disarray. It apparently had been hacked to pieces by the tomb robbers who were looking for precious jewelry. The head had been shattered and the bones of the face were missing. His hip bone and pelvis were found among the bones at his neck and his elbow and humerus were discovered on his right thigh. Bones from two other mummies were also found including the right hand of an unidentified woman and the right hand and forearm of an unidentified man.

Ramesses VI was embalmed in a fashion similar to his two predecessors. The cranial cavity had been packed with linen and a resin paste, which was also plastered over the face, eyes, and forehead. The king’s ears had also been pierced and his teeth were only moderately worn. And due to the presence of a skull piercing similar to those found on the skulls of Ramesses IV, Ramesses V, Merenptah, and Seti II, it has been speculated that Ramesses VI had originally been moved to the KV14 cache along with those mummies before being finally placed in KV35.

The Face of Ramesses VI

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramesses_VI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KV9

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Gates

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Caverns

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Ramesses_VI

https://www.arce.org/project/conservation-sarcophagus-ramses-vi

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/Y_EA140

http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/20A.htm

https://madainproject.com/kv9_(tomb_of_ramesses_v_and_ramesses_vi)

Photo Credits

Face of Stone Sarcophagus – British Museum; Wikimedia Commons (Carlos Teicxidor Cadenas)

Relief of Ramesses VI as a prince from Medinet Habu – Wikimedia Commons (Neithsabes)

Statue of Ramesses VI holding a bound Libyan captive, currently in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo – Wikimedia Commons (Georges Legrain)

Portrait of Ramesses VI from his tomb – Wikimedia Commons (Champollion and Rosellini)

Broken bust of Ramesses IV at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon – Wikimedia Commons (Colindla)

Mummy face– Wikimedia Common (G. Elliot Smith)

Mummy body – Mummipedia (Tawfika)

Ushabtis of Ramesses VI at the British Museum – Wikimedia Commons (Jack1956)

Reassembled lid, cleaning the fragments, the glued fragments groups, Brock checking the joins – Francis Dzikowski

Test cleaning of the sarcophagus – Edwin Brock

Images of Tomb – Madain Project

Mummy in coffin – http://anubis4_2000.tripod.com/mummypages2/20A.htm

Picture of 18th dynasty coffin – http://ib205.tripod.com/ramesses_6_cache.html

Tomb Layout – https://famouspharaohs.blogspot.com/2011/05/kv9-tomb-of-ramesses-v-and-ramesses-vi.html

Mummy Monday: “Usermontu” ?

This week, both Monday and Wednesday’s posts have a slight medical theme. Today we are going to talk about a mummy at the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose, California. He has been known as Usermontu, but that was most likely not his name.

The Provenance of the Mummy

The original provenience of the mummy is completely unknown. In 1971, two sarcophagi were purchased by one of the Marcus brothers, the owners of the store Neiman-Marcus, then primarily located in Texas. They were most likely purchased in England and then sent to their store in Bal Harbor, Texas. At the time, the sarcophagi were both sealed and no one knew about the mummy that lied within.

The two coffins offered in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalogue of 1971. Left, the coffin of Irturu, and right, the coffin of Usermontu, with the unknown mummy.

The two sarcophagi appeared in the 1971 Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog in a section called “His and Her Gifts for People who Have Everything.” The Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose purchased the coffins for $16,000. As the pieces were being shipped out, a worker heard one of the coffins rattling and discovered the mummy inside the coffin of Usermontu. Apparently, Mr. Marcus was afraid of breaking a law for transporting human remains, so they may have obtained a death certificate for the mummy before it was sent to California.

The Sarcophagus

The coffin of Usermontu, in the display in the Rosicrucian Museum. The coffin next to it happens to belong to a relative of Usermontu, Ta’awa-Sherit.

The coffin (RC-1777) was made for a man named Usermontu, which means “Powerful is Montu.” He probably lived in the 26th Dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period. Titled as a priest of Montu and Lord of Thebes, he was the son of Besenmut and a close relative (probably cousin) of Ta’awa-Sherit. (Her coffin is also located at the Rosicrucian Museum.) This family is well known and powerful during the turmoil of the Saite Period in the 26th Dynasty.

The other coffin (RC-1778) belonged to a person named Irturu and was probably also made in the 3rd Intermediate Period. It is unclear where the mummy that this coffin was made for ended up.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the original provenience of these two coffins. This of course complicates as to who the mummy was in the coffin and why he was placed in this coffin.

The Mummy Itself

The mummy (RC-1779) was placed inside this coffin at an unknown time, but most likely after the real Usermontu was buried. This mummy was found completely naked, except for a small piece of linen around the wrist. (When it arrived in California, it was wrapped with contemporary linen.) This piece of linen dates to 400 B.C.E., which is neither in the New Kingdom nor the Third Intermediate Period, indicating it may date to the reburial of the mummy into the coffin.

Based on the embalming method, he is believed to have lived during the New Kingdom of Egypt, which is the period before the Third Intermediate Period, when the coffin was made. There is, unfortunately, no clue as to where the mummy originally came from, though there are some indications of his identity. In life, he may have been a natural redhead and was around 5 feet tall. The red hair may indicate that he was part of the Ramesside family, who had a history of redheads. His arms were also crossed over his chest, which was a typical pose for royal mummies.

Unfortunately, nothing else is known about his identity. Check out this 3D model of the mummy and listen for more information!

The Orthopedic Implant

In 1995, BYU professor, C. Wilfred Griggs performed some x-rays scans on six mummies in the Rosicrucian Museum in preparation for a lecture. He wanted to analyze some of the artifacts so he could add a local viewpoint to his talk on the application of science and technology in archaeological fieldwork, which turned out to be a lucky break! It was discovered that “Usermontu’s” mummy had a 9 inch (23 cm) iron-made orthopedic screw inside his left knee. It was originally thought to have been inserted in modern times to attach his lower leg.

The scholars examining the mummy found in the coffin of Usermontu

Griggs received permission to unwrap the leg to examine it further. An orthopedic surgeon and chief of radiology were asked to consult on the mummy. They carefully drilled a hole into the bone to allow access for a tiny camera to examine the pin and to extract samples of the bone and the metal. When drilling, the specialist found wetness inside the bone. This was most likely due to the drill bit generating enough heat to melt the resinous glue. They found traces of organic resin, possibly made out of cedar, traces of ancient fats and textiles.

The x-ray of the left knee of the mummy found in the coffin of Usermontu

The pin was created with the same design used today to create bone stabilizations. It tapers into a corkscrew as it enters the femur or the thigh bone. And the other end is in the tibia and has three flanges extending outward from the core of the pin that prevents rotation of the pin inside the bone. This is the first case of a metal orthopedic implant in a mummy.

The screw was most likely inserted after the mummy’s death and before his burial. It was held in place with an organic resin, which is similar to modern bone cement. This was most likely done because the leg had become detached during the mummification process. It would ensure the integrity of the body which was required for the ancient Egyptian afterlife.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usermontu_(mummy)

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1995-02-06-9502020773-story.html

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/89283/stories-behind-12-outrageous-neiman-marcus-holiday-gifts

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jaw-dropping-neiman-marcus-fantasy-gifts_n_56339abee4b0c66bae5c2e7b

https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-ancient-technology/medical-mystery-usermontu-why-discovery-2600-year-old-knee-screw-020445

https://mummipedia.fandom.com/wiki/Usermontu

https://magazine.byu.edu/article/byu-professor-finds-evidence-of-advanced-surgery-in-ancient-mummy/

https://egyptianmuseum.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/E296B6FE-88B8-4C0B-8384-523501137654

https://egyptianmuseum.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/4260C363-CD2E-42A6-BD7A-373084409360

https://egyptianmuseum.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/240137FC-DBCA-46A4-8268-957380763261

https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/mummy-from-usermontus-coffin-406e4b64b263440e9a380d3cc99f956c

Photo Sources

Mummy and Coffins – Roscrucian Museum

Mummy in case – Flickr (Will Scullin)

Mummy in case – Wikimedia Commons (Oleg Alexandrov)

X-Ray – Mummipedia

3D scan – https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/mummy-from-usermontus-coffin-406e4b64b263440e9a380d3cc99f956c

Picture of Scholars in the Mummy – BYU Magazine

Photo of coffin in case – https://medium.com/@lovejulieletters/u-8a7eb1efe38b