An assassin slit the throat of Egypt’s last great pharaoh at the climax of a bitter succession battle, scientists said on Dec. 17 in a report on a 3,000-year-old royal murder.
Forensic technology suggests Ramses III, a king revered as a god, met his death at the hand of a killer, or killers, sent by his wife and ambitious son, they said.
A cadaver known as the “Screaming Mummy” could be that of the son himself, possibly forced to commit suicide after the plot, they added.
Computed tomography (CT) imaging of the mummy of Ramses III shows that the pharaoh’s windpipe and major arteries were slashed, inflicting a wound 70mm wide and reaching almost to the spine, the investigators said. The cut severed all the soft tissue on the front of the neck.
“I have almost no doubt about the fact that Ramses III was killed by this cut in his throat,” palaeopathologist Albert Zink of the EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Italy told AFP.
Ramses III, who ruled from about 1188 to 1155 BC, is described in ancient documents as the “Great God” and a military leader who defended Egypt.
He was about 65 when he died, but the cause of his death has never been clear. History shows, though, that the plotters failed to derail the line of succession. Ramses was succeeded by his chosen heir, his son Amonhirkhopshef.