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Archive for December 18th, 2012

His Majesty does not seem amused.

His Majesty does not seem amused.

As in the capital of Ancient Egypt. It seems the mystery surrounding the death of Pharaoh Ramses III has been solved:

Conspirators murdered Egyptian King Ramesses III by slitting his throat, experts now believe, based on a new forensic analysis.

The first CT scans to examine the king’s mummy reveal a cut to the neck deep enough to be fatal.

The secret has been hidden for centuries by the bandages covering the mummy’s throat that could not be removed for preservation’s sake.

The work may end at least one of the controversies surrounding his death.

Precisely how he died has been hotly debated by historians.

Ancient documents including the Judicial Papyrus of Turin say that in 1155BC members of his harem attempted to kill him as part of a palace coup.

Apparently there was a dispute over which of his sons (from different wives) would inherit the throne on Papa’s death. The losing mother and son weren’t happy and arranged for Ramses to get a second mouth. The article is quite worth reading; the forensic work was impressive.

Oh, and the conspirators? They got theirs:

The trial documents[8] show that many individuals were implicated in the plot.[9] Chief among them were Queen Tey and her son Pentaweret, Ramesses’ chief of the chamber, Pebekkamen, seven royal butlers (a respectable state office), two Treasury overseers, two Army standard bearers, two royal scribes and a herald. There is little doubt that all of the main conspirators were executed: some of the condemned were given the option of committing suicide (possibly by poison) rather than being put to death.[10] According to the surviving trials transcripts, 3 separate trials were started in total while 38 people were sentenced to death.[11] The tombs of Tiy and her son Pentaweret were robbed and their names erased to prevent them from enjoying an afterlife. The Egyptians did such a thorough job of this that the only references to them are the trial documents and what remains of their tombs.

Some of the accused harem women tried to seduce the members of the judiciary who tried them but were caught in the act. Judges who took part in the carousing were severely punished.[12]

Pentawere looks to have been strangled in an execution, so it doesn’t appear he was allowed suicide. Perhaps he was granted the right to choose the manner of his death, in deference to his rank.  It seems some mercy was shown him since, as the BBC article mentions, it looks like the unknown youth buried with Ramses III is Pentawere, although his body wasn’t given royal treatment.

Still this would have let him enter the afterlife. Many of the other conspirators, however, weren’t so “lucky:” they were burned alive and their ashes scattered in the streets. In the Ancient Egyptian religion, this meant their souls were destroyed too, as only mummification allowed survival after death. Thus, it wasn’t just execution, it was utter eradication. (Sorry, no link. Saw it yesterday but can’t find it, now.)

Now that’s what I call “extreme justice.”

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