The mummy of Ramesses III had a deep slit in the throat

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.

But it is less clear whether the assassination was successful. Some say it was, while other accounts at the time imply the second Pharaoh of the 20th dynasty survived the attack, at least for a short while.

Shrouded in mystery

The Judicial Papyrus tells of four separate trials and lists the punishments dished out to those involved in the plot, which included one of the king’s two known wives, called Tiye, and her son Prince Pentawere – potential heir to the throne.

It says Pentawere, the only one of Ramesses III many sons to revolt against him, was involved in the conspiracy, found guilty at trial and then took his own life.

To find out more, Dr Albert Zink, a paleopathologist at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Italy, and colleagues set out to examine the mummy of Ramesses III and the unidentified remains of another body found in a royal tomb near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt that was believed to be the king’s son Pentawere.

Working out of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo where the bodies are now housed, the team ran some CT scans and DNA tests on the mummies.

Scans of Ramesses III revealed a deep, 2.7in (7cm) wide wound to the throat just under the larynx, which the medical scientists say was probably caused by a sharp blade and could have caused immediate death.

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