Return of a Pharaoh

Egyptologists at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta believe they have found the mummy of Ramses I, pharaoh of ancient Egypt during biblical times.

The putative Ramses--whose tomb has long since been ransacked--was one of a batch of nine Egyptian mummies acquired for $2 million from a Toronto collector, says Betsy Teasley Trope, the museum's assistant curator of antiquities. It lay anonymously for many years in the Niagara Falls Museum in Ontario after being acquired in Egypt in the 1850s.

Although the body was stripped of wrappings and coffin, Trope says the positioning of the arms across the chest, and the incisions made on the sides to remove internal organs, are consistent with a royal burial some 3300 years ago. What's more, she says, "the face, quite frankly, looks like a member of the Ramesside family." Josef Wegner, an Egyptologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, says the Ramses nose had "a distinctive shape--straight with a bit of a curve at the end."

The museum hopes to definitively identify Ramses with DNA tests now being conducted by scientists at Emory University in Atlanta. They are comparing the mummy's DNA with material from the Cairo Museum taken from Ramses I's son Seti I and his grandson Ramses II, the pharaoh who is believed to have driven the Israelites out of Egypt.