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Public | 23-May-2023

The mummy of Ramesses II was discovered within the Royal Cache (TT320) close to Deir El-Bahari, Theban Necropolis.

The mummy of Ramesses II was discovered within the Royal Cache (TT320) close to Deir El-Bahari, Theban Necropolis. This Royal Cache was used by ancient priests to provide the royal and elite mummies with safety from tomb robbers. Discovered by Egyptian locals in 1871, within this Cache, Egyptologists discovered King Ramesses II, among many other royal mummies, including his father Seti I. Ramesses II had been rewrapped in linen and placed in a wooden sarcophagus by the ancient priests. Written on both the linen and the wooden coffin were Ramesses names and titles in hieratic script. The mummy of Ramesses showcased what Egyptologists called an ❝excellent❞ quality of embalming. Despite the destruction made by ancient tomb robbers, the mummy had been fantastically preserved, and the embalming technique fitted the 19th Dynasty time period in which Ramesses II lived and died. This includes techniques of slight and subtle packing. Ramesses’ mummy is rather famous for the prominent nose, most definitely a trait he had in life, yet the embalmers made sure to preserve this by packing his nose with small seeds, resin and strangely a small animal bone. And as with most mummies, resin-soaked linen is present in the torso too. Recent CT scans of the mummy showcase that the king died well over 70, as many ailments that come with very old age were present, including arthritis and a hunched back. Study of the king's bones, teeth, and general remains, do support the historic indication of Ramesses II being over 90 at the time of his death. Despite his ailments and old age, the king’s mummy measures at 170cm. And when you take into consideration, shrinking with age, with death itself and the shrinking that the drying mummification process provides the body with, it is safe to presume Ramesses II may have been rather tall for his time period and average male height of today. Although the mummy of the king had been somewhat damaged during the tomb robberies of ancient times, modern analysis is still very clear at providing Egyptologists with an idea of Ramesses’ final years. Unfortunately for the king, his teeth were in very bad condition; with Dr. Saleem noting “marked tooth wear and alveolar resorption;”, plus, a large cavity at the root of the left second molar; indicating an abscess that was most definitely very painful. Coping with an abscess at any age even in modern times is extremely painful, so we can only imagine being over 90 in the ancient world dealing with such pain. Sources: Hawass, Z.A., Saleem, S.N. and D'Auria, S. (2018) Scanning the pharaohs: CT imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press.
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