Although Italian archaeologists discovered the tomb of Queen Nefertari (and the mummified knees contained therein) in 1904, they have just set to work to positively identify them, and now they believe them to have belonged to the queen herself.

The tomb itself was discovered in 1904, complete with lavish paintings and beautiful ornamentation. However, it was clear that the grave, located in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens, had already been looted many years before. Thus, it is hard to say what else may have remained inside the queen’s final resting place.

It is likely only the knees lie in the grave due to grave robbers tearing the body apart to get to jewelry or other objects of value on or around the queen’s remains.

Nefertari was the wife of Pharaoh Ramses II, and undoubtedly one of his favorites. Having died in 1250BC, the Egyptian queen was well known for her exquisite beauty.

University of York’s Joann Fletcher, and Egyptologist, explains why the knees were not immediately identified as Nefertari’s:

“We know certainly in the Valley of the Queens, from previous work we’ve done, that individuals were often buried in earlier tombs.

We had no way of knowing if these were Nefertari’s remains or not. They could have been washed into the tomb at a later date during one of these occasional flash floods that do occur in that part of Egypt.”

But numerous testing has lead the team to believe the disembodied knees did, indeed, belong to Nefertari. Tests revealed the age of the person to be about 40, which Nefertari was assumed to be around the time of her death.

Chemical analysis of the tools used to mummify the knees also suggest that the person belonged to the highest social class of the time–the mummification process was done with the most expensive elements and stark attention to detail.

Lastly, testing confirms that the knees belonged to a person of about 5’5″, which is about the height Nefertari was confirmed to be. Ornate sandals residing inside the tomb made for a woman of the same height also helps corroborate this.

Fletcher says of the results:

“If a large team all come up with data that all points in the same direction, than we can say this seems the most likely possibility. You can never say 100 percent, this is definitely the person. But we are personally quietly confident that this is the great queen herself.”

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