Nina de Garis Davies | Ramesses III and Prince Amenherkhepeshef before Hathor, Tomb of Amenherkhepeshef | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nina de Garis Davies | Ramesses III and Prince Amenherkhepeshef before Hathor, Tomb of Amenherkhepeshef | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A mystery from nearly 3,200 years ago has been solved: Conspirators murdered Egyptian king Ramesses III by cutting his throat, according to a recent study in the British Medical Journal. Furthermore, the investigation suggests that one of his sons was involved in the murder.

The fate of the second Pharaoh of the 20th dynasty was long the subject of debate among historians after the discovery of papyrus trial documents revealed that members of his harem had made an attempt on his life as part of a palace coup in 1155 BC.

Phoenician | Eye of Horus (ouadjet eye) | 7th-6th cent. BCE | Carthage | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Phoenician | Eye of Horus (ouadjet eye) | 7th-6th cent. BCE | Carthage | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

The researchers’ CAT scans of Ramesses III’s mummy revealed a substantial wound in his throat, probably caused by a sharp blade, and a Horus eye amulet inside the wound, possibly inserted by embalmers during the mummification process to promote healing.

Genetic tests also suggested that an unnamed mummy buried near the Pharaoh was one of Ramesses’ sons, as Egyptologists had suspected. That this mummy’s internal organs were not removed and that it

was covered in “ritually impure” goatskin imply that the son was buried in disgrace.

Read the article in the British Medical Journal and browse the ARTstor Digital Library to see more images of Egyptian art and architecture from collections such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Egyptian and other Ancient Art (Arielle Kozloff Brodkey), Plans of Ancient and Medieval Buildings and Archaeological Sites (Bryn Mawr College), Art, Archaeology and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives), and Italian and other European Art (Scala Archives).

You may also be interested in: The birth of Howard Carter, discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb.