For over 100 years, four blue-glazed jars bearing the nametag of Rameses II (1302-1213 B.C.) were believed to contain the Egyptian pharaoh's bodily organs. But analysis of organic residues scraped from the jars has determined one actually contained an aromatic salve, while a second jar held the organs of an entirely different person who lived around 760 years later.Now the question is, who was this individual?"Wedo believe that the unknown person was of importance for at least two reasons," said Jacques Connan, one of the study’s authors.
"First, he or she had access to the famous jars and secondly, his or her organs were embalmed with pure Pistacia resin, which is uncommon according to our present chemical knowledge on balms of Egyptian mummies, especially during the Roman period."
concerning the jars began in 1905, when they were brought to Paris’
Louvre Museum, where they are still housed. Shortly after that time,
researchers cut into a packet inside one of the jars and plucked out a
piece of heart. The packet is now lost, but from that point on, the
containers were labeled as "the canopic jars of Rameses II."
Connan, a professor in the
bio-organic geochemistry laboratory at LouisPasteur University in
Strasbourg, and his colleagues questioned the description, especially
as the heart of Rameses II was later found inside his mummy. The
scientists recently radiocarbon dated residue from two of the four jars
and used molecular biomarkers to identify the contents.
A paper on the findings has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The aromatic salve was
determined to contain animal fat — probably from a pig — which was
mixed with coniferous oil, such as cedar, juniper or pine. This
concoction dates close to the pharaoh’s lifetime. Connan and his team
now think the jars originally held sacred cosmetics in the Temple of
"Unguent (perfumed salve)
cones were worn on top of heads by women in banquets, but likely also
during ceremonies to honorgo......
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