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Pharaoh Sekenenra Taa II was brutally killed on the battlefield


Professor of Radiology at Cairo University Sahar Salim (Sahar Saleem) and renowned archaeologist Zahi Hawass (Zahi Hawass) presented the results of computed tomography of the mummy of Pharaoh Sekenenr Taa II. They also studied the written records of the death of the pharaoh and compared the wounds on his head with five types of cold weapons of the Hyksos, samples of which were found during the excavation of ancient Avaris. An article about the research results was published in the journal Frontiers of Medicine.

Computed tomography has confirmed the findings of previous studies of the mummy. The injuries on the head of the pharaoh really indicate that he did not die by his own death, but in addition to the already known injuries, additional ones were revealed, skillfully hidden under a layer of embalming material.

Sequenenre was about 40 years old at the time of his death. He was about 167 cm tall and had beautiful teeth. Pharaoh’s brain shrunk and occupied the left side of the skull. Internal organs were missing. The upper limbs of the mummy were bent at the elbows and wrists, and the fingers were twisted. At the same time, an unpleasant smell was noted in the documents about the first examination of the pharaoh’s mummy in 1886.

These data were interpreted as follows. By the time of mummification, the pharaoh’s body had already begun to decompose. But the embalming took place in a well-equipped and dedicated place, and not in the field, as was previously thought. The embalmers could not put the body in the traditional pose of the mummy, but tried to make up the consequences of the wounds.

Egyptian experts re-examined all injuries to Sekenenra’s skull and confirmed that most of the blows occurred on the right side of the head. Some of the wounds were inflicted while the pharaoh was still on his feet, and some – when he was thrown to the ground.

The researchers compared the size and shape of the injuries with the weapons of the enemies of the Egyptians – the Hyksos. It turned out that the pharaoh was killed in a rather cruel way: he received blows exclusively in the head with a spear, dagger, battle ax, and also with a club or an ax handle. Several of the wounds were fatal. The absence of weapon marks on his hands suggests that Sequenenra was not defending himself – perhaps because his hands were already tied.

The loss of face in the literal sense was very painful for the ancient Egyptians, since it did not allow them to properly mummify the deceased, and for the pharaoh it was also very humiliating. None of the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, known for their military successes, had such wounds. This could mean that Sekenenra was involved in the battle rather than watching the battle from a secure location.

Based on these data, Salim and Hawass built a picture of the death of the pharaoh. The mortal battle, they speculated, took place somewhere between Deir el-Ballas, where Sekenenra had built a fortification, and Avaris. Pharaoh was captured in battle, tied up, and possibly kneeled before the assassins. With a strong blow of a sword or ax, he was thrown to the ground and finished off. After that, the body of the ruler for some time lay on the battlefield on its left side. In this position, the subjects found him and sent him to the place of mummification. Presumably – to the capital, Thebes.

These data supplement modern knowledge about one of the dramatic pages in the history of Ancient Egypt – the second transition period (1715 – about 1554 BC), when the country fell apart and Lower Egypt was captured by the Hyksos.

Pharaoh Sekenenra Taa II of the XVII (Theban) dynasty ruled in Ancient Egypt around 1569-1554 BC. The dynasty has a geographical clarification because the XVIII-XVI centuries BC. part of Egypt was in the possession of the Hyksos. The aliens chose Avaris in the Nile Delta as their capital. And the South with the capital in Thebes was ruled by the pharaohs. It was believed that during the reign of Sekenenre, the conflict with the Hyksos turned into a phase of hostilities, and he himself died on the battlefield or, possibly, as a result of a palace coup.

The mummy Sekenenra Taa II was discovered in 1881, and in 1886 it was unwrapped and described by the Egyptologist Gaston Maspero. It was he who noted the traces of numerous injuries on the head and careless embalming, concluding that the violent death of the pharaoh at the age of about 40 years.

Maspero explained the quality of mummification by haste and inadequate conditions far from the royal workshops. In 1906, professor of anatomy G.E. Smith described in detail all of Sekenenre’s cranial injuries seen and mentioned the complete absence of wounds on other parts of the body. He suggested that the pharaoh was not defending himself, but was killed in his sleep during a palace coup. In addition, Smith speculated with which weapon the wounds were inflicted. Radiographic examination in the 1960s confirmed the findings of previous studies on injuries sustained by Sequenenre.


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