In a new research published in the journal PLOS One, archeologists claimed that the mummified knees that were discovered in a tomb in the Valley of the Queens in Egypt likely belonged to Queen Nefertari, the royal wife of Pharaoh Ramses II.
Lavish Tomb Ransacked By Robbers
The Egyptian queen was laid in a lavish tomb during the19th Dynasty — around the 13th century B.C — when she died, but robbers eventually managed to ransack her tomb.
It was likely during the raid that the queen's body was dismembered possibly to get the jewelry and amulets that she was wearing. The robbers made off with the goods in her grave but left some funerary statues and the knees.
When Nefertari's tomb was discovered in 1904, it was not clear if the fragmented mummified legs belonged to Nefertari.
Study researcher Joann Fletcher, from the University of York, said many tombs were later reused.
"You have got the effects also of very occasional but dramatic flash floods, so while things are found in a tomb it doesn't necessarily follow that the human remains that you are finding are those of the individual portrayed in there and on the tomb walls," Fletcher said.
Data Suggest Knees Belonged To Member Of The Royal Family
To build a strong case that the mummified knees belonged to Nefertari, the researchers conducted X-ray scans, radiocarbon dating and chemical analysis of the wrappings' residue as well as used contextual clues from the burial.
Radiocarbon dating revealed that the knees date back from the period when the queen was alive. The scans and how the remains were buried also strongly suggested that the knees belonged to a member of the royal family.
"The legs probably belong to a lady, a fully adult individual, of about 40 years of age," the researchers reported. "The materials used for embalming are consistent with Ramesside mummification traditions and indeed all objects within the tomb robustly support the burial as of Queen Nefertari."
Anthropometric reconstruction and the size of the knees revealed that the women likely stood between 5 foot 5 inches and 5 foot 6 inches, which coincides with data that show the queen was likely taller than 84 percent of the women of her time.
Sandals found at the scene are also typical of the style during the queen's time. It is also estimated that the sandals were around U.S. size 9, which is consistent with somebody who has the queen's height and build.