- Reuters / Amr Dalsh
Scientists have claimed that they have uncovered the cause of death of one of Egypt's most prominent pharaohs who died nearly 3,000 years ago.
Documentation of the new discovery was published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday as part of an ongoing study into the life of Ramses III.
Ramses III ruled from about 1188 to 1155 BC and oversaw the Egyptian empire during a time when it was the dominant force in the Mediterranean. It was thought the pharaoh died around age 65, but it was never clear until now how he died.
Researchers examined the remains of the pharaoh using CT scans and discovered a large cut on the neck, according to the BBC.
The wound had been covered by bandages used by the Egyptians when they mummify a person. The scan showed a cut that was 2.7 inches deep and located just under the larynx. The wound is thought by medical experts to have been instantly fatal.
"I have almost no doubt about the fact that Ramses III was killed by this cut in his throat," paleopathologist Albert Zink, of the EURAC Institute for Mummies, told AFP.
"The cut is so very deep and quite large, it really goes down almost down to the bone (spine). It must have been a lethal injury," he added.
Ramses III was regarded as a ferocious military commander and ruler. The study states that he was the victim of an assassination attempt by the son of one of his wives, Prince Pentawere, who was an heir to the throne.
"The unusual mummification process of unknown man E, including the ritually impure use of a goat skin to cover the body, could be interpreted as evidence for a punishment in the form of a non-royal burial procedure," according to the study. "Together with the genetically proven family relationship with Rameses III, we therefore believe that unknown man E is a good candidate for Pentawere."