Ancient Egyptian pharaoh’s skeleton unearthed, showing death in battle
Image of Pharoah Seneb Kay's skull showing battle wounds, courtesy of the Ministry of Antiquities Facebook Page

CAIRO: Initial studies on the 3,600 year-old skeleton of Pharaoh Seneb Kay, whose tomb was unearthed last year, indicate he died on the battlefield between the age of 35 and 49.

“The 18 injuries in the pharaoh’s bones and skull along with several vertical cuts in his ankle, feet and lower back strongly suggest that the 16th Dynasty pharaoh Seneb Kay, the founder of the 16th Dynasty died during a fierce battle of a number of wounds he received from multiple assailants or an ambush,” American Egyptologist of the University of Pennsylvania Josef W. Wegner stated Wednesday.


Wegner, who leads a team of archaeologists excavating in the southern part of Abydos, unearthed Seneb Kay’s tomb in 2014. The skeleton was found in a wooden coffin inside the tomb where the pharaoh’s names and titles were found inscribed inside royal cartouches.

“The size of the blows and wounds at the skull shed light on the shape and type of the axes and weapons used during that time while the angle of the wounds suggests that the attackers first wounded the lower part of the pharaoh at close range, dragged him on the ground and finally finished him with several axe blows to his skull,” said Wegner, adding that the pharaoh was standing in an elevated position, probably in a chariot, when he was attacked.

The skeleton indicates that the pharaoh was around 1.78 meters tall.



According to the ancient Greek historian Manetho, the 16th Dynasty of ancient Egypt, together with Dynasties 15 and 17 was often combined under the group title of the Second Intermediate Period (1690B.C.-1580B.C.), when ancient Egypt fell into disarray, archaeologist Sherif el Sabban told The Cairo Post Thursday.

“The second intermediate period marks the invasion of the Hyksos [multiracial people from the Middle East who took over eastern Nile Delta] which resulted in the division of Upper and Lower Egypt between the pharaohs at Thebes and the Hyksos kings respectively,” said Sabban.

The Hykoso took Avaris, better known as Tell el-Dabaa, as their administrative capital city while Egyptian pharaohs ruling from Upper Egypt took Thebes, better known as Luxor, as their capital, Sabban added.

The outcome of the new study is significant and could change historical postulates as before the study, Pharaoh Seqnen Re of the 17th Dynasty, whose mummy is in the Egyptian museum, was believed to have been the first pharaoh to have died in battle, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said Thursday.

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