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EGYPT – the causes of death of a pharaoh discovered thanks to a scanner


Egyptian scientists have discovered the causes of Pharaoh Seqenenrê Tâa II’s death by passing his mummy through X-rays.Drawing on three-dimensional images, the study conducted by archaeologist Zahi Hawass and professor of radiology at the University of Cairo, Sahar Salim, suggests that Pharaoh was killed by his opponents during a “ceremony of execution”, after being taken prisoner on the battlefield.

We now know the causes of the death of Pharaoh Seqenenrê Tâa which have always been particularly vague. This was thanks to the work of Egyptian researchers who scanned his mummy. The tomb of the pharaoh was discovered by archaeologists in the 1880s. But it was in the 1960s that they were able to get a first x-ray of his mummy.The researchers concluded that the Egyptian king had died as a result of several injuries, such as broken bones on the forehead, nose, cheeks and base of his skull. Since all the injuries were on the left side, the theory of a murder in the middle of the night while he was sleeping was plausible.

Called “the brave”, Seqenenrê Tâa ruled Egypt nearly 1,600 years before our era, during the 17th dynasty (-1625 to -1549). He fought with his army against the group of Hyksos who then occupied Lower Egypt in the 1550s BC. According to the results of the mummy scan, radiologist Sahar Saleem and former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, concluded that Seqenenrê Tâa died near the battlefield. His remains had to be brought back to Thebes to be mummified. The weapons of the Hyksôs are at the origin of his death.
According to the researchers, Seqenenrê Tâa was killed very violently. A person standing before the kneeling king struck him in the forehead with a sharp and heavy weapon such as a sword or axe. Another sharp weapon cracked it at the right eyebrow. Then someone to the left of the pharaoh stabbed him with some kind of spear iron that pierced his skull. Sahar Saleem and Zahi Hawass explained that “each of these injuries is a potential cause of death, but all three together are almost certainly fatal.”

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In addition, Seqenenrê Tâa’s remains show other less serious injuries, but which nevertheless broke his nose, his right cheek and the orbit of the right eye. It would also seem that the author of the first fatal blow nicked the left cheek of the pharaoh by fracturing the bone.

The researchers pointed out that King Seqenenrê Tâa probably stayed several days on the battlefield before his remains were brought back to Thebes and to be prepared there by the royal embalmers. Finally, the mummy of Seqenenrê Tâa has already been opened, but the researchers are now able to unpack the mummies without touching them thanks to the diffraction of X-rays. Thanks to the careful study of its skeleton, the Egyptian scientists have estimated that it “was 40 years old at the time of his death”.


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