King Ramses III's throat was slit by assassin, experts say

Reuters Middle East

* New scans reveal deep cut in pharaoh's throat

* Expert says was murdered in a succession plot

* Death of "last great pharaoh" has puzzled historians

ROME, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III,

whose death has puzzled historians for centuries, had his throat

slit in a succession plot concocted by his wife and son, a new

analysis suggests.

New CT scans have revealed a deep and wide cut that was

hidden by the bandages covering the throat of the mummified

king, which could not be removed in the interests of

preservation, researchers said on Tuesday.

"Finally, with this study, we have solved an important

mystery in the history of ancient Egypt," said Albert Zink, a

paleopathologist at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in

Italy, which led the investigations.

During the study at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo researchers

also discovered a small amulet that was inserted into the king's

wound - which Zink said was probably placed there by embalmers

hoping it would heal the cut in the afterlife.

Ramses III, often referred to as the last great pharaoh,

reigned over Egypt from roughly 1186 to 1155 BC. The exact cause

of his death has been fiercely debated by historians.

Papyrus documents at the Egyptian Museum in Turin describe a

conspiracy by Tiye, one of his wives, to kill the pharaoh so

that her son Pentawere could succeed to the throne. They suggest

the conspiracy failed and all the people involved were punished.

During the latest investigations, a genetic study of a

previously unidentified mummy that was found in the same burial

chamber as Ramses III revealed it to be a relative, possibly

Pentawere. The study showed that he was probably hanged.

"Furthermore, he was not embalmed in a normal way. They had

not removed his organs and he was wrapped in a goat skin,

something considered impure in ancient Egypt," Zink said.

Pentawere may have been forced to kill himself as a

punishment for the conspiracy, Zink said.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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