Discovery uncovers possible Nefertiti Mummy

MUMBAI: The Discovery Channel has announced that Egyptologist Dr Joann Fletcher has perhaps discovered and identified the mummy believed to be that of ancient Egypt's stunningly beautiful Queen Nefertiti.


Later this year in September, Discovery will present a two-hour special chronicling the expedition, including the discovery of the mummy, and telling the compelling story of one of the great figures in Egyptian history.

Nefertiti meaning "the beautiful or perfect one has come" and several of her six daughters achieved unusually high status during the reign of her husband and co-ruler, Akhenaten, during the 14th Century BC. Discovery funded Fletcher's expedition, which blended archaeology and state-of-the-art digital technology to try to find and identify Nefertiti as part of the network's new initiative, Discovery Channel Quest.

The first stage of the expedition took place a year ago. Fletcher a member of the University of York's Mummy Research Team, first visited the secret side chamber in tomb KV35 in Luxor's Valley of the Kings, the ancient royal burial ground.

An expert in mummification, specialising in the study of ancient Egyptian hair, Fletcher was drawn to the tomb by her identification of a forgotten Nubian-style wig favoured by royal women in the XVIIIth dynasty during the reign of Akhenaten, which had been found near three unidentified mummies.

Discovery and London-based Atlantic Productions filmed Fletcher as she examined the mummies, one of who bore a striking profile and swan-like neck comparable to the famed beauty Nefertiti, despite malicious post-mortem blows to her face.

Fletcher found physical links to the late queen including the clear impression of the tight-fitting brow-band she once wore (which identifies this individual as royalty), a double-pierced ear lobe, shaved head, and physical damage echoing the attacks on her statues and other representations. In addition, it was unusual for royal mummies not to bear identifying marks, suggesting that these mummies, although royal in status,

were intentionally deprived of ways to enter afterlife according to Egyptian belief. That would fit historical knowledge about Nefertiti's role in the Amarna period's religious revolution, later overturned by the powerful,

traditional priesthood.

Earlier this year in February a multidisciplinary team of scientists -- funded by Discovery -- returned to KV35. They further studied the methods used to embalm the mummies, and while examining the mummies discovered a ripped-off right arm, bent up pharaonic style with its fingers still clutching a long-vanished royal scepter.

They also used cutting-edge Canon digital X-ray machinery to examine the mummies on the spot. The evidence, including jewelry within the smashed-in chest cavity, appeared to confirm Dr. Fletcher's original assessment of the identity of one of the two adult female mummies (the third is of a young boy)

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