The Younger Lady

  (Redirected from The Younger Lady (mummy))

The Younger Lady is the informal name given to a mummy discovered within tomb KV35 in the Valley of the Kings by archaeologist Victor Loret in 1898.[1] The mummy also has been given the designation KV35YL ("YL" for "Younger Lady") and 61072,[2] and currently resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Through recent DNA tests, this mummy has been identified as the mother of the pharaoh Tutankhamun and a daughter of pharaoh Amenhotep III and his Great Royal Wife Tiye. Early speculation that this mummy was the remains of Nefertiti was proven to be incorrect.[3]

"The Younger Lady"
Right profile view of the mummy from KV35
DynastyEighteenth of Egypt
FatherAmenhotep III
ReligionAncient Egyptian Religion


The mummy was found adjacent to two other mummies in KV35: a young boy who died at approximately age of ten, thought to be Webensenu, and an older woman, who has been identified as Tiye by the recent DNA studies on Tutankhamun's lineage.[3] The three mummies were found together in a small antechamber of the tomb of Amenhotep II, lying naked, side-by-side, and unidentified. All three mummies had been extensively damaged by ancient tomb robbers.

The front view of the Younger Lady

Description of the mummyEdit

A 1912 sketch made by Grafton Elliot Smith of the full body of the Younger Lady mummy, documenting the extensive damage that existed when he examined it

Dr. Grafton Elliot Smith provided an extensive description of the mummy in his survey of the ancient royal mummies at the beginning of the twentieth century. He found the mummy to be 1.58 m (5 ft 2 in) in height and judged her to have been no older than 25 years at the time of death. He also noted the major damage done by ancient tomb robbers, who had smashed the chest, and had torn the right arm off just below the shoulder. Smith presumed that she was a member of the royal family.[4]

The Younger Lady has a gaping wound in the left side of her mouth and cheek. It had been thought that this wound, which also destroyed part of the jaw, had been the result of the actions of tomb robbers,[4] but a more recent re-examination of the mummy while it was undergoing genetic tests and CT scans determined that the wound had happened prior to death and that the injury had been lethal.[5] Julian Heath suggests that the wound was likely the result of an axe blow.[6] Another researcher suggests the wound could have been inflicted by a horse kick during a chariot crash.

Below her left breast there is another wound, likely a puncture or stab wound.[6] In 2003, a scientific team from University of York, working under Joann Fletcher, examined the mummy. A member of the team realized that the face wound could have been a premortem wound, rather than a postmortem wound as previously presumed. Instead of the Younger Lady's remains simply being mutilated after her death by tomb robbers motivated by malice, it seemed likely the woman had been injured while still alive. The conclusion was considered uncertain.[7] At a later point, Ashraf Selim lent support to this theory. He noted that if the Younger Lady had been damaged following the embalming process, then bits of dried bone and flesh could be located in the mummy's wounds. Since no such findings occurred, he was certain that this was a pre-mortem wound. Further, Selim viewed the wound as too violent to be the result of an accident. In his opinion, the Lady had been injured in an act of deliberate violence.[7] The Egyptian Mummy Project which used a CT scan to examine the mummy, located "very few pieces of the relevant broken bones" in the sinus cavity. They concluded that the woman's face had been damaged before the embalming process, and likely prior to her death. Indeed, the face wound was determined to be a probable cause of death for the woman.[7]

The missing right arm of the mummy was the cause of a minor controversy among researchers. Two severed arms had been located within KV35, and either one was thought likely to belong to the Younger Lady. One was a bent arm with a clenched fist, while the other was a straight arm. It was typical for Egyptian royal women mummies to be positioned with one of their arms bent and the other one in a straight position. The hand more likely to be positioned as bent was the left hand.[7] Ashraf Selim of The Egyptian Mummy Project examined both arms to resolve the controversy. The bent arm was compared to the mummy's attached left hand, and was found to be too long to belong to the same woman. The bones of the two compared arms also were found "different in consistency". The straight arm was then compared to left arm of the mummy. It was found to be of similar length and similar bone density, so the project concluded that the straight arm most likely belonged to the Younger Lady.[7] The identified right arm of the Younger Lady has two breaks, "one in the upper arm and one at the wrist". The hand has been severed from the rest of the limb.[7]

A finding of lesser importance is that the Younger Lady has a double-pierced ear. Pierced ears were rather common for women of the New Kingdom of Egypt, including royals and nonroyal women. So the woman's pierced ear can not help researchers determine her identity or social position.[7] Similarly inconclusive for identification purposes was the discovery of a wig in KV35, which could have belonged to the Younger Lady. Supporters of the theory identifying the woman with Nefertiti, pointed to the wig's perceived similarities with the type of wigs used by Nefertiti. Although they are fashion items used by Egyptian women of the same era, they can not help identify the wig's user either.[7]

CT scan findingsEdit

Following the CT scan of the Younger Lady, more detailed descriptions of the mummy have been published.[8] Despite previous disputes about the gender of the mummy, the morphology of the skull and pelvis confirms that she was indeed a woman. The condition of the epiphyseal union and the closure of the cranial sutures suggest that the woman was between 25 and 35 years old at the time of her death. Her height was 1.58 meters from the vertex to the heel.[8]

The skull cavity contains only the shrunken and desiccated brain and dura mater of the woman; there is no evidence of embalming material within the cranial cavity. There is an oval defect in the front of the skull; this hole has sharp, beveled, and festooned edges. The lack of evidence for attempted healing or sclerosis indicate that the defect was caused by a postmortem alteration of the body, probably during the embalming process. The embalmers likely used a sharp instrument on the skull.[8]

The left side of the lower face includes a large defect involving her left cheek, left maxillary sinus, alveolar process, and part of her left mandible. There are sharp edges in this bony defect, with no evidence of attempted healing or sclerosis. Fragments of the broken lateral wall of the left maxillary sinus were located within the antral cavity. Fragments for most of the woman's fractured bones are missing, and apparently not placed in her tomb.[8] This supports the idea that the facial injury took place prior to her mummification. The researchers consider this to have been a perimortem injury, happening either shortly before death or following her death. The lack of signs of healing support the idea that the injury was fatal. The small fragments of bone found within the maxillary antral sinus, at least indicate the direction of the trauma. Something was "pushing" the bones in, rather than "pulling" them out.[8] A heavy object striking the woman's face would have such an effect. If not an intentional act, an accident involving the woman receiving a strong kick from an animal, such as a horse, would have the same result and such acute facial trauma to a living person would cause severe shock and bleeding, likely resulting in death.[8]

The soft tissues located next to the facial defect were relatively thicker than the corresponding tissues on the intact and uninjured right side of her face. On top of the facial gap and partly beneath the remaining skin was a rolled embalming pack of linen impregnated with resin. A similar substance was located on the right side of the face, particularly the cheek and the mid-face. More clearly identified packs of linen were located in the periphery of the woman's orbits, placed in front of the globes of the eyes. Resin was also located in her right nasal cavity.[8] The mouth is filled with linen. No embalming materials were placed within the throat.[8]

The woman has several missing teeth due to her facial injury. Her right and left first incisors and the left canine tooth were affected by this fracture. The sockets of the right second incisor, the left first molar, and the left second molar are empty, with these teeth missing. The first and second left upper molars are partially fractured. Both the right and the left upper third molars are nonerupted. Conversely, the upper right canine, premolars, first molar, and second molar are still present. This group of teeth has no visible attrition, and no occlusal irregularity of their surface.[8]

The woman had a double-pierced left ear. Part of the right auricle is missing so the number of piercings on this side is unknown.[8]

The mummy was found to have mild lumbar scoliosis. The curved spine of the mummy may be a postmortem condition, resulting from the position of the body during the mummification process. No structural abnormalities in the vertebrae, fractures, or congenital anomalies (birth defects) were found.[8]

There is a large defect in the front of the woman's torso. The internal organs were removed by embalmers, with the exception of the heart, which remains visible within the body. The embalming incision has been located in the left inguinal region and is 56 millimetres in length and 135 millimetres in depth.[8] The torso contains both linen fibers smeared with resin, and with linen packs treated with resin. One of the resin-treated linen packs was placed within the pelvis. The pelvic floor has a large defect, possibly used during the mummification process to remove the viscera. This would be an example of perineal evisceration.[8]

The left arm of the mummy extends beside her body, with the hand placed over the left hip. The right arm has been snapped off close to the shoulder. The break has gaping ends, with no evidence of attempted healing.[8] The disarticulated right arm has been placed beside the body. The right hand has been broken and completely separated from the wrist. This hand had been placed at the feet of the mummy.[8]

The pelvis contains small postmortem fractures, and the legs have also been damaged.[8] There is a subcutaneous filling at the back of the right hip region, where her buttock is located. The right tibia has a defective area at the front of the distal shaft. The defective area extends 33.5 millimetres above the ankle joint. The metatarsals of both feet are broken, and the front half of both feet are missing.[8]

Researchers have noted some peculiarities in the mummification process used on the woman. The evisceration of the body and the stuffing of the torso with embalming materials were standard parts of the mummification process used during the entire reign of the eighteenth dynasty. This was not the case in this embalming, with the intact skull base and lack of effort to remove the brain. This process had been used on early rulers of the eighteenth dynasty, as seen in the mummies currently identified with Thutmose I, Thutmose II, and Thutmose III. By the time of the later rulers of the Eighteenth Dynasty, when the woman lived and died, the process had changed. All mummies from this later era contain some treatment of the brain, in attempts to remove it from the head. The mummification process used on this woman seems like a throwback to an earlier era.[8] Another peculiarity is the evidence that the embalmers were trying to repair and cover injured areas of the body. They used subcutaneous fillings and packs to remodel the injured left side of the face, the contralateral side of the face, and the right hip region. This was not part of the typical efforts of an embalmer.[8]

While the CT scan researchers thought the woman's death likely to be violent or accidental, they were less certain of what caused the skull defect and the defect in the anterior wall of the body. Whether they were perimortem or postmortem injuries to the body could not be determined. They could be the result of the same mysterious lethal incident as the facial injury, or caused long after mummification, by the ancient tomb robbers.[8]

Hermann Schögl, a Swiss Egyptologist, agrees with the medical and DNA findings of the teams working under Zahi Hawass, but disputes several of the identifications of the royal and noble mummies. Schögl agrees that the head injuries which the woman received were lethal, and has suggested that she was killed in a chariot crash or accident.[9] Schögl believes that the Younger Lady is Nefertiti, and that she was killed in a chariot accident during regnal year 14 of Akhenaten's reign. However, the archaeological findings from Akhenaten's reign seem to indicate that Nefertiti was still alive during regnal year 16, two years following the date Schögl has chosen as the date for the death of the Younger Lady.[9] Marianne Eaton-Krauss, another Egyptologist, finds Schögl's alternative royal genealogy for the eighteenth dynasty and his attempted reconstruction of the final years of Akhenaten's reign to be rather unconvincing.[9]


There has been much speculation as to the identity of the Younger Lady. Upon finding the mummy, Victor Loret initially believed it be that of a young man as the mummy's head had been shaved. A closer inspection later made by Dr. Grafton Elliot Smith confirmed that the mummy was that of a woman, however, Loret's original interpretation persisted for many years.[citation needed]

DNA tests have shown conclusively that the mummy is that of a woman and that she was the mother of Tutankhamun.[3] The results also show that she was a full-sister to her husband, the mummy from KV55, and that they were both the children of Amenhotep III and Tiye.[3] This family relationship would lessen the possibility that the Younger Lady was either Nefertiti, or Akhenaten's secondary wife Kiya, because no known artifact accords titles to either of them as "King's sister" or "King's Daughter".[5] The possibility of the Younger Lady being Sitamun, Isis, or Henuttaneb is considered unlikely, as they were Great Royal Wives of their father, Amenhotep III, and had Akhenaten married any of them, as great royal wives, they would have become the principal queen of Egypt, rather then Nefertiti. The report concludes that the mummy is likely to be Nebetah or Beketaten, daughters of Amenhotep III and not known to have married their father, although he is known to have had eight daughters with Tiye.[5]

There still are some Egyptologists who support the theory that the Younger Lady is Nefertiti. Proponents of the genetic identification interpret the DNA results as being the result of three generations of first cousin marriage rather than a single, full-sibling marriage.[10]

Marianne Eaton-Krauss has called attention to the apparent absence of Tutankhamun/Tutankhaten's mother from the available historical record of Ancient Egypt during consideration of the Younger Lady and an early death of a minor wife. As of the 2010s, nobody has been able to find an inscription, a relief, or a statue dedicated to this young pharaoh's mother. KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, contains memorabilia from his life and reign. None of these items ever mentions his mother.[9] This is in stark contrast to the influential mothers of the pharaohs of the eighteenth dynasty, who had a large presence in the reigns of their sons. Tiaa served as king's mother to Thutmose IV, Mutemwiya as king's mother to Amenhotep III, and Tiye as king's mother to Akhenaten. It seems likely that Tutankhamun/Tutankhaten never had a king's mother (mwt nswt) during his reign, indicating that she had died before his rise to the throne. This lends credence to the Younger Lady, determined to be his mother by DNA, being a minor wife of Akhenaten who died before Tutankhamun became king.[9] No son is recorded for Nefertiti.

Despite the Younger Lady being daughter to a pharaoh (Amenhotep III), full sister and probable wife to a second pharaoh (Akhenaten), and mother to a third pharaoh (Tutankhamun/Tutankhaten), she does not appear to have been a prominent figure in her lifetime. Willeke Wendrich, an Egyptologist, considers it likely that she was a minor wife or a concubine to Akhenaten, rather than his royal wife, Nefertiti.[11] Wendrich notes that the pharaohs of Egypt typically had multiple wives. This often resulted in multiple sons serving as viable heirs to the throne, and creating the potential competition among the sons to gain the right to succeed their father.[11]

Facial reconstructionEdit

On 7 February 2018, The Younger Lady was featured on the seventh episode of the fifth season of Expedition Unknown, entitled "Great Women of Ancient Egypt". On the presumption that the mummy might be Nefertiti, a team led by Expedition Unknown's host Josh Gates used the preserved remains, modern technology, and artistry to present a reconstruction of what the Younger Lady would have looked like in full royal regalia.[12] The bust was created by French paleoartist Élisabeth Daynès.[13] The DNA research on the mummy excludes Nefertiti from consideration as the Younger Lady, however.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Reeves, Nicholas. Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Valley of the Kings. p100. Thames & Hudson. 1997. (Reprint) ISBN 0-500-05080-5
  2. ^ Smith, G. Eliot.The Royal Mummies p.117 Duckworth Publishers, 2000
  3. ^ a b c d Hawass Z, Gad YZ, Ismail S, Khairat R, Fathalla D, Hasan N, Ahmed A, Elleithy H, Ball M, Gaballah F, Wasef S, Fateen M, Amer H, Gostner P, Selim A, Zink A, Pusch CM (February 2010). "Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family". JAMA. 303 (7): 638–47. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.121. PMID 20159872.
  4. ^ a b Smith, G. Elliot. The Royal Mummies. p.40-41. Duckworth Egyptology. 2000 (Reprint from original 1912 edition). ISBN 0-7156-2959-X
  5. ^ a b c Hawass, Z; et al. (2010). "Ancestry and pathology in King Tutankhamun's family". JAMA. 303 (7): 3. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.121. PMID 20159872.
  6. ^ a b Heath (2015), p. 180
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Hawass, Saleem (2016), p. 131-132
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Hawass, Saleem (2016), p. 80-83
  9. ^ a b c d e Eaton-Krauss (2016), p. 10-11
  10. ^ Dodson, Aidan (2018). Amarna Sunset : Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian counter-reformation (Revised ed.). Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-977-416-859-8.
  11. ^ a b Than, Ken (February 17, 2010). "King Tut Mysteries Solved: Was Disabled, Malarial, and Inbred". National Geographic News. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  12. ^ "Black Twitter roasts TODAY show for Queen Nefertiti reconstruction that looks like a white woman - theGrio". theGrio. 2018-02-06. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  13. ^ "A new, anatomically accurate bust depicts Queen Nefertiti—but with fair skin". Newsweek. 2018-02-07. Retrieved 2018-02-26.


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