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  • Zahi Hawass

Finding the Mummy of Hatsheput

When I began to search for the mummy of Hatsheput, I began to collect all the unidentified mummies that belonged to a king, queen, or princess from the Valley of the Kings. Such as, the two mummies from tomb of KV 35 and the two from KV 21 and the mummy in KV 60. I also collected the mummies that were stored in the upper floor of the Cairo Museum. The number of mummies I collected was 20. I hoped and I believed that one of these mummies was that of Hatsheput's, but I never imagined I would actually discover her mummy. I placed the mummies in room 44 in Cairo Museum and I started conducting CT scans. At the same time, I collected all the artifacts belonging to Hatsheput. The alabaster jar, the sarcophagus, the canopic wooden box that was found in the cachet of the mummies in Deir el-Bahari and had inside the liver of the queen and her name written outside of the box. The presence of these objects in the cachette without the mummy showed that, in my opinion, they started moving the objects belonging to the Queen and the mummy was moved to a place for re-wrapping before being moved to the mummy cachette, and for some reason this never happened and it remained where it was temporarily kept.

I talked to Dr. El-Leithy and I told him to bring the liver box to scan it using the CT scan. As we were looking at the scans, Dr. Abdel el-Rahman said to me: 'look and tell me what do you see'. So, I answered that I saw the liver and part of a stomach. He told me: 'no, look again', and when I looked again I found a tooth, a molar with one of the roots still attached. It was interesting to see a molar inside the box with the liver. I think that Hatsheput had problems with her teeth and during the mummification, one of her teeth fell and the embalmers took it and put it in the box. Dr. Asharf Seleem, the radiologist, and Dr. El-Beheiry, the dentist, began to look at the teeth of all the mummies that we scanned and we found one mummy with a cavity that surprisingly fitted with this tooth exactly, the cavity had one root still attached while the other was missing.

That was the best moment any archaeologist in the world can dream of. One tooth led us to the discovery of the mummy of Hatsheput, it was not only the tooth that proved that this was the mummy of Hatsheput, but other evidence as well. For example, the mummy was found in KV 60 and the objects found inside KV 60 all showed that they were made for royalty. KV 60 was also the tomb for the nurse of Hatsheput and is located near the tomb KV 20, the tomb of Hatsheput.

We found more details about the mummy, she died at the age of 55, and she suffered from diabetes and died of cancer. That was the most beautiful moments of my life, when I looked at the mummy and was in fact staring at the mummy of Hatsheput. I ordered for her placement in the Cairo Museum for everyone to see her and know the amazing story of her discovery.


Dr Zahi Hawass is the former Minister of Antiquities in Egypt, and the newly appointed IFPSD (International Federation for Peace and Sustainable Development) Cultural Heritage Ambassador. Dr Hawass has participated in many projects in Egypt, including the redisplay of the royal Egyptian mummies at Cairo Museum, and he is an ambassador for Egyptian tourism worldwide.


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