The sarcophagus of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II identified: here's where it was discovered

Analyzing a granite fragment of a sarcophagus already known by scholars ofAncient Egypt and attributed solely to a high priest, the French Egyptologist Frédéric Payraudeau discovered that it was also the original sarcophagus in which one of the greatest Egyptian pharaohs was buried: Ramesses II. How did the discovery happen? And how is it possible that the sarcophagus contained several bodies?

In the 2009beneath a Coptic religious building (ancient Egyptian Orthodox church) ad Abydosin Egypt, archaeologists Ayman Damarani And Kevin Cahail they discovered a sarcophagus fragment in granite. Based on the decoration and the hieroglyphs engraved on it, the person who must have been buried inside was identified as an important priestlived around 1000 y. C.

The fragment actually hid something more. In an article recently published on Revue d'Égyptologiethe French Egyptologist Frédéric Payraudeau proposed a more in-depth reading of some previous engravings ignore. In addition to the hieroglyphs that identify the priest, the cartouche (standardized formula in which the name of the pharaoh was contained) and the name itself of Ramesses II (1303-1213/1212 BC), one of the most important and long-lived pharaohs in Egyptian history.

During his very long reign, Ramesses II was very great builder (under his government the famous temple of Abu Simbel) and conqueror military (the Egyptians led by him fought against the Hittites, a people originally from Anatolia, in the famous Battle of Kadesh, the oldest clash of which we have written testimony). Despite the greatness of his kingdom, the mummy of Ramesses II was found in 1881 inside a modest hideout in a crack in the ground in the complex of Deyr el Behari, together with those of other pharaohs and priests. But why?

The mummy of Ramesses II found in 1881 in Deyr el Behari. The sovereign died at the ripe old age of 90.

Initially, the mummy of Ramesses II was buried in the Kings' Valleyinside a majestic tomb, known in archeology as a tomb KV7. However, as happened very often in those times, the tombs of the pharaohs came often violated by raidersto seize the riches of kit. This, which probably had to be majestic and suited to the importance that Ramesses II had in life, came plundered almost immediately. Just over a century later (around 1090 BC), the sovereign's mummy was moved by priests in other places where it was believed it would be more al Safeuntil reaching the secret refuge of Deyr el Behari, where it was found in 1881.

The interior of tomb KV7 in the Valley of the Kings, plundered by grave robbers. Credit: Dennis Jarvis

The original granite sarcophagus then came abandonedAnd reemployed two centuries later for the burial of the priest. These were not unusual practices in Ancient Egypt, dictated both by the exploitation of materials and monuments already present and by the constant threat of grave robbers.