Ramses III’s 3,000-year-old murder mystery ‘solved’

Updated 18 December 2012
0

Ramses III’s 3,000-year-old murder mystery ‘solved’

PARIS: An assassin slit the throat of Egypt’s last great pharaoh at the climax of a bitter succession battle, scientists said yesterday in a report on a 3,000-year-old royal murder.
Forensic technology suggests Ramses III, a king revered as a deity, met his death at the hand of a killer, or killers, sent by his conniving wife and ambitious son, they said.
And a cadaver known as the “Screaming Mummy” could be that of the son himself, possibly forced to commit suicide after the plot, they added.
Computed tomography (CT) imaging of the mummy of Ramses III shows that the pharaoh’s windpipe and major arteries were slashed, inflicting a wound 70 mm wide and reaching almost to the spine, the investigators said.
The cut severed all the soft tissue on the front of the neck.
“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 and the Iceman in Italy 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.”
Ramses III, who ruled from about 1188 to 1155 BC, is described in ancient documents as the “great deity” and a military leader who defended Egypt, then the richest prize in the Mediterranean, from repeated invasion.
He was about 65 when he died, but the cause of his death has never been clear.
Sketchy evidence lies in the Judicial Papyrus of Turin, which recorded four trials held for alleged conspirators in the king’s death, among them one of his junior wives, Tiy, and her son Prince Pentawere.
In a year-long appraisal of the mummy, Zink and experts from Egypt, Italy and Germany found that the wound on Ramses III’s neck had been hidden by mummified bandages.
“This was a big mystery that remained, what really happened to the king,” said Zink of the study, published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
“We were very surprised and happy because we did not really expect to find something. Other people had inspected the mummy, at least from outside, and it was always described (as) ‘there are no signs of any trauma or any injuries.’“
It is possible that Ramses’ throat was cut after death, but this is highly unlikely as such a practice was never recorded as an ancient Egyptian embalming technique, the researchers said.
In addition, an amulet believed to contain magical healing powers was found in the cut.
“For me it is quite obvious that they inserted the amulet to let him heal for the after-life,” said Zink.
“For the ancient Egyptians it was very important to have an almost complete body for the after-life,” and embalmers often replaced body parts with sticks and other materials, he said.
The authors of the study also examined the mummy of an unknown man between the ages of 18 and 20 found with Ramses III in the royal burial chamber.
They found genetic evidence that the corpse, known as the Screaming Mummy for its open mouth and contorted face, was related to Ramses and may very well have been Prince Pentawere.
“What was special with him, he was embalmed in a very strange way ... They did not remove the organs, did not remove the brain,” said Zink.
“He had a very strange, reddish color and a very strange smell. And he was also covered with a goat skin and this is something that was considered as impure in ancient Egyptian times” — possibly a postmortem punishment.



If it was Pentawere, it appears he may have been forced to hang himself, a punishment deemed at the time as sufficient to purge one’s sins for the after-life, the researchers said.
History shows, though, that the plotters failed to derail the line of succession. Ramses was succeeded by his chosen heir, his son Amonhirkhopshef.


France’s Macron forced to curb his ambitions for Europe

Updated 19 May 2019
0

France’s Macron forced to curb his ambitions for Europe

  • His pro-Europe vision has collided with populists and national interests across the continent
  • In his country, his political vision has given rise to France’s raucous yellow vest uprising over his government’s pro-business policies

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron sees himself as Europe’s savior and next week’s European Parliament elections as a make-or-break moment for the beleaguered European Union.
But Macron is no longer the fresh-faced force who marched into a surprising presidential victory to the rousing EU anthem two years ago. His pro-Europe vision has collided with populists and national interests across the continent. And at home, his political vision has given rise to France’s raucous yellow vest uprising over his government’s pro-business policies.
Macron wanted the May 23-26 European Parliament elections to be the key moment that he could push his ambitions for a stronger Europe — but instead, nationalists and populists who criticized the 28-nation bloc could achieve unprecedented success.
They argue that EU leaders have failed to manage migration into the continent and remain out of touch with ordinary workers’ concerns.
“We have a crisis of the European Union. This is a matter of fact. Everywhere in Europe, when you look at the past five to six years, in our country but in a lot of countries, all the extremes, extreme-rights, are increasing,” Macron said Thursday, making an unexpected appeal for European unity on the sidelines of a technology trade show.
“On currency, on digital, on climate action, we need more Europe,” he said. “I want the EU to be more protective of our borders regarding migration, terrorism and so on, but I think if you fragment Europe, there is no chance you have a stronger Europe.”
In person, the 41-year-old Macron comes across as strikingly, sincerely European. A political centrist, he’s at ease quoting Greek playwrights, German thinkers or British economists. France’s youngest president grew up with the EU and has been using the shared European euro currency his whole adult life, and sees it as Europe’s only chance to stay in the global economic game.
Macron has already visited 20 of the EU’s 28 countries in his two years in office, and while he acknowledges the EU’s problems, he wants to fix the bloc — not disassemble it.
Macron won the 2017 presidential election over France’s far-right, anti-immigration party leader Marine Le Pen on a pledge to make Europe stronger to face global competition against the Unites States and China. Since then, he’s had to make compromises with other EU leaders — and clashed with some nations where populist parties govern, from Poland to neighboring Italy.
Four months after his election, Macron outlined his vision for Europe in a sweeping speech at Paris’ Sorbonne university, calling for a joint EU budget, shared military forces and harmonized taxes.
But with Brexit looming and nationalism rising, Macron has had to reconsider his ambitions. He called his political tactics with other EU leaders a “productive confrontation.”
“In Europe, what is expected from France is to clearly say what it wants, its goals, its ambitions, and then be able to build a compromise with Germany to move forward” with other European countries, Macron said last week.
Macron stressed that despite her initial reluctance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed last year to create a eurozone budget they hope will boost investment and provide a safety mechanism for the 19 nations using the euro currency.
In March, Macron sought to draw support for a Europe of “freedom, protection and progress” with a written call to voters in 28 countries to reject nationalist parties that “offer nothing.”
And he proposed to define a roadmap for the EU by the end of this year in a discussion with all member nations and a panel of European citizens.
“There will be disagreement, but is it better to have a static Europe or a Europe that advances, sometimes at different paces, and that is open to all?” he asked.
France and Germany are the two heavyweights in Europe, and Macron can also count on cooperation from pro-European governments of Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and others.
He has made a point, however, of not yet visiting Hungary or Poland, two nations led by populist leaders whom Macron accused last year of “lying” to their people about the EU.
France has also been entangled in a serious diplomatic crisis with Italy over migration into Europe. Italy’s anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly criticized Macron and is backing his rival Le Pen’s National Rally party in the election this week that aims to fill the European parliament’s 751 seats.
Macron has little chance to repeat Europe-wide what he did in France: rip up the political map by building a powerful centrist movement that weakened the traditional left and right.
The campaign for Macron’s Republic on the Move party is being led by former European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau under a banner called “Renaissance.” The party wants to associate with the pro-market ALDE alliance to create new centrist group at the European Parliament.
But across the continent, the centrists are not expected to come out remotely on top but rank third or even lower behind the parliament’s traditional two biggest groups, the right-wing European People’s Party and the left-wing Socialists and Democrats group.
Even at home, Macron is far from certain of being able to claim victory in the European vote. Polls suggest his party will be among France’s top two vote-getters in the election, which takes place in France on May 26.
But its main rival, the far-right National Rally party, is determined to take revenge on Macron beating Le Pen so decisively in 2017.
Macron’s political opponents across the spectrum are calling on French voters to seize the European vote to reject his government’s policies.
While he won 64% of the presidential vote in 2017, French polls show that Macron’s popularity has been around half that for the past year.
It reached record lows when France’s yellow vest movement broke out last fall, demanding relief from high taxes and stagnant wages for French workers, then slightly rose as extensive violence during yellow vest protests, especially in Paris, dampened support for the movement’s cause.
Still, the yellow vests are not going away. New protests against Macron and his government are planned for the EU election day.