Science Solves the Mystery of an Egyptian King’s Death

February 7, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. plot 
[plot] (n.) – a secret plan to do something evil
Example: The journalist uncovered a plot to kill the president.

2. murder [MUR-der] (v.) – to kill another person
Example:  To murder or even plan to murder somebody is a serious crime.

3. heir [air] (n.) – a person who will take over the title, properties, or responsibilities of another person
Example: Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth’s heir, will someday become the head of British royalty.

4. mummy [MUHM-ee] (n.) – a dead body that has been treated to prevent it from rotting or decaying
Example: The mummies of ancient Egyptian kings can still be seen in museums today.

5. intact [in-TAKT] (adj.) – complete, having no damage
Example: The pyramids of Egypt remained intact until treasure hunters broke into them.

Read the text below.

Researchers have finally solved the mystery surrounding the death of King Ramses III, ruler of Egypt from 1187 to 1156 B.C.

Ancient documents say that Tiye, one of the king’s wives, led the plot to murder the King Ramses III. Tiye wanted her son, Pentawere, to be the king even though he was not the chosen heir. Pentawere was also believed to be part of his mother’s plot.

For years, researchers have been wondering whether or not the king was truly murdered. And if the king was murdered, how did he die?
Thanks to developments in science, Dr. Alfred Zink and his team was able to study the mummies of King Ramses III and a man believed to be Pentawere. The researchers used CT scans and DNA tests to analyze both mummies.

The CT scans of the king’s mummy revealed that the king had a deep throat wound, which was 2.7-inch wide. Dr. Zink said the damage to the throat must have happened before the king’s body was mummified because the mummy’s neck wrapping was still intact. Researchers also found an amulet or charm in the king’s wound, which might prove that the king already had the wound before being mummified.

Through the DNA tests, researchers also confirmed that the other mummy was a relative of King Ramses III. However, the second mummy was wrapped in goatskin, which is unusual for royal families because goatskin is considered unclean.

Researchers said this result strengthens the theory that the second mummy is Pentawere. The goatskin wrapping might be Pentawere’s punishment for participating in the plot to murder the king.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, why are people interested in finding answers to historical mysteries?
·         What other ancient mysteries have you heard of?

Discussion B

·         How important is history in the development of one’s country?
·         What can you learn from studying ancient civilizations, like that of Egypt (e.g. Greek, Roman, Mayan, Vikings, Japanese, Chinese civilizations)?


February 7, 2013