Egypts Unexplained Files (2019) s01e06 Episode Script

Finding Nefertiti

1 NARRATOR: Pyramids, temples, tombs.
These ancient wonders promise even greater secrets still to be found beneath the sands of Egypt.
Now, cutting-edge science finally decodes the mysterious land of the pharaohs.
With modern technology, we are gaining an insight into the way the ancient Egyptians lived and the manner of which they died.
NARRATOR: This time, health and wealth in ancient Egypt.
Can the contents of a forgotten royal artifact reveal the killer of an ancient queen? JOHNSTON: The analysis of the material in this flask revealed shocking results.
NARRATOR: Can modern scanning technology prove how this young woman died and if her killer is still a threat? Is this something modern, perhaps? Trauma that occurred that affected the bones.
NARRATOR: And can 21st-century science prove that a mummy found in an ancient storeroom is, in fact, Egypt's most iconic queen.
The person buried there in that hidden burial chamber might be Nefertiti.
NARRATOR: Ancient clues unearthed, long-lost evidence re-examined, precious artifacts brought into the light of the 21st-century.
These are Egypt's unexplained files.
-- Captions by vitac -- captions paid for by discovery communications Nefertiti-- one of Egypt's most iconic queens.
But, remarkably, there is no trace of her or her tomb.
The fate of Nefertiti and the whereabouts of her body-- all still a mystery.
NARRATOR: Once the most powerful woman in the land, Nefertiti has been erased from history.
She simply disappears from historical record.
NARRATOR: Can 21st-century science find the queen ancient Egypt tried so hard to hide and reveal the shocking truth of how Nefertiti died? A facial injury indicates that she died a grisly death.
NARRATOR: Little is actually known about queen Nefertiti's life and death, but she is instantly recognizable.
GODENHO: Nefertiti's one of the most popular individuals from ancient Egypt, one that sticks in the public imagination not least because of the famous Berlin bust-- this beautiful woman-- and people want to know more about her.
She was the principal wife of a man named Akhenaten.
FLETCHER: Akhenaten is one of the most famous pharaohs of the 18th dynasty.
He marries the famous Nefertiti.
He's the father of the even-more-famous Tutankhamun.
So, big names-- the headline acts in ancient Egyptian history.
Nefertiti enjoys very unusual status amongst Egyptian woman at this time.
She is considered a goddess, and she's actually considered more like an equal to her husband.
NARRATOR: Nefertiti and Akhenaten were a powerful couple, but they were also hated.
COONEY: Akhenaten was a heretic.
He was remembered as somebody who harmed Egypt with his religious beliefs.
NARRATOR: The king and queen tried to change Egypt's religious tradition and made powerful enemies.
One of the reasons we don't know a great deal about Nefertiti and her family is because they were erased from history.
That erasing literally takes the form of people going out and chipping away the images and names.
NARRATOR: To find the queen, the first challenge is to locate her burial place.
Some egyptologists believe that Nefertiti's missing body is right under their noses.
There are clues that Tutankhamun famous tomb was actually built for a queen.
GODENHO: Generally, when you look at Tutankhamun burial equipment, one of the interesting things that egyptologists have noticed is that they weren't all originally designed for Tutankhamun.
We've got evidence of names being changed.
And also, when you look at some of the faces on some of the burial equipment, like is canopic jars, they're distinctly feminine, which suggests that actually, these items were intended for somebody else but were repurposed for Tutankhamun, perhaps because he died so suddenly.
The mask of Tutankhamun does look somewhat effeminate, so it could be potentially been intended for Nefertiti.
So it's not impossible that that was the tomb she was really buried in, and she may have been been moved out to make room for him later on.
NARRATOR: But moved where? What became of Nefertiti? In 2015, a new theory arises that she may still be in Tutankhamun's tomb within a hidden chamber.
Scientists carry out two separate sets of scans, but results are inconclusive.
In order to settle the matter once and for all in the hope that that would be possible, a third set of scans was commissioned and undertaken in 2018.
Shortly after that, it was announced by the ministry of antiquities that they considered the case to be closed and that, indeed, there was nothing more to find in Tutankhamun's tomb.
NARRATOR: Researchers keep up the hunt for Nefertiti.
If she is not in Tutankhamun's tomb, could her body have been moved somewhere in the valley of the kings? One particular mummy may fit the bill.
For her mummy, we might have a lead.
There's a tomb in particular, KV35, which is originally the tomb of a new kingdom pharaoh called Amenhotep II.
However, this tomb was used to house other bodies.
Priests were taking these bodies from their tombs because there were robberies in the area, and putting them in safe places.
And this-- KV35-- was one of those safe places.
There is a mummy there of a woman.
It's now been given the name "the younger lady", and it has been proposed that, in fact, this may be the body of Nefertiti.
NARRATOR: The theory that the mummy known as "the younger lady" is, in fact, the famous queen Nefertiti is contentious.
One renowned egyptologist, Aidan Dodson, is convinced, but what can DNA analysis tell us? DODSON: As for "the younger lady", the DNA seemed to show that she was the mother of Tutankhamun and the father of Tutankhamun had been the full-blooded brother of the lady in question.
, Tutankhamun was the offspring of a brother-sister marriage.
NARRATOR: This is a revelation.
They have found the mother of Tutankhamun, but they certainly weren't expecting she and her husband, king Akhenaten, to be brother and sister.
Dodson decides to dig deeper in the raw DNA data.
DODSON: And what turns out is that if a person is the offspring of three generations of first-cousin marriages, their genetic profile will be exactly the same as it would've been if their parent had been brother and sister.
You can come up with a very creditable family tree, which makes Nefertiti and Akhenaten first cousins following on from three generations of first-cousin marriages.
NARRATOR: So this mummy abandoned in a storeroom is definitely the mother of Tutankhamun, the wife of king Akhenaten, and either his sister or his cousin.
But is she Nefertiti? Experts disagree, but for Aidan Dodson, at least, there is no question.
On the basis of the genetics and also what we can glean from the textual data from the period, the most likely outcome is "the younger lady" is Nefertiti.
NARRATOR: If this is queen Nefertiti, experts are still faced with another mystery-- exactly how did she die? "The younger lady's" mummy has sustained some damage.
There's a huge hole in her thorax that presumably is either part of the mummification process or tomb robbery.
But more importantly, the left side of her face has a huge hole in it.
And at first, egyptologists thought that must be the result of damage sustained as robbers were rooting through.
But it's also, of course, been suggested that, in fact, this may have happened before the death and that, in fact, it was the cause of the death of "the younger lady".
NARRATOR: We know Nefertiti had powerful enemies, but could she actually have died violently? The detective work depends on 21st-century scanning technology.
DODSON: When the head of the mummy was scanned, the results were very disturbing from the point of view of how this person died, and it became clear there were fragments of the jaw bone and so on inside the sinuses, which could only have happened if the damage had been done while the person was alive.
One of the possibilities is that this was the result of a blow from an ax or a weapon.
Which indicates that she died a grisly death.
NARRATOR: Nefertiti now has her rightful place in history, but in the end, her power and fame may not have been enough to protect her from her enemies.
Strange marks are seen on an Egyptian mummy.
They realized that something wasn't quite right with these mummies.
NARRATOR: Archaeologists need to rely on science to resolve this ancient mystery.
ALTAWEEL: Is this something modern, perhaps? Trauma that occurred that affected the bones.
NARRATOR: Could this be the earliest signs of a killer we are still fighting today? NARRATOR: 2017-- a Spanish team are working at the Qubbet El-Hawa burial site just outside Aswan.
Egyptologist Alejandro JIMÉNEZ-SERRANO is one of the team leaders on this unique excavation.
JIMÉNEZ-SERRANO: Qubbet El-Hawa was a necropolis where the highest officials of the southern-most province of Egypt were buried.
They constructed tombs-- in some cases, beautifully decorated.
NARRATOR: There is an air of anticipation as several mummified remains are taken out for closer inspection.
The archaeologists want to investigate how the mummification process evolved in different eras for those who could afford the very best.
ALTAWEEL: This is a rare opportunity in Egypt to find mummied high-level officials from the middle kingdom period.
JOHNSTON: Every mummy that we have an opportunity of studying further tells us something more about that mummification process, which was so important to the ancient Egypt Egyptian concept of the afterlife.
COLLEEN: In the 19th-century, it was really popular to unwrap mummies.
It was essentially the only way of finding out what was inside.
NARRATOR: Today, unwrapping the ancient bodies is not best practice.
It's seen as too invasive.
Archaeologists turn instead to modern medical technology.
BIANCHI: We're no longer having theater of the dead in the 19th-century where you're paying to see a mummy dissected.
So we're learning a great deal by using the medical advances of our medical colleagues in order to examine mummies.
NARRATOR: However, one of the most ancient mummies found is little more than bones-- an almost intact skeleton-- which allows the team to get up close and investigate.
The pelvis and the short size of the individual confirmed that that she was a woman.
She died between 35 and 40 years old.
NARRATOR: Closer examination of this female skeleton reveals something unusual.
The analysis of the bones shows tiny holes were present in all the body.
NARRATOR: Initially, the team is mystified.
ALTAWEEL: Is this something modern, perhaps? It could be, for instance, insects going into the bones that's causing discoloration.
Trauma that occurred post-burial, perhaps, that affected the bones.
NARRATOR: The team compare their scans with modern medical records, looking for any similarities.
They come to a chilling conclusion.
JOHNSTON: Based on this initial visual impression, the research was thought that perhaps the mummy suffered from cancer of some form.
NARRATOR: This discovery is extraordinarily rare.
Could ancient Egyptians have suffered widely from cancer-- the big killer of our modern age? Ancient medical texts do describe what we know as cancerous tumors, but it is almost impossible to find actual examples of the disease.
COLLEEN: Looking for cancer in ancient mummies is very difficult because you only have the evidence normally of the bones.
Most cancer is going to appear in soft tissues that simply aren't preserved.
ALTAWEEL: You would be lucky to see the age of 40 in the ancient world.
Most people don't develop cancer today until they're past the age of 40.
Most individuals would die at a very early age.
NARRATOR: In Aswan, the Spanish team examining the bodies from the Qubbet El-Hawa necropolis focus their efforts on the female skeleton.
Cancer damage to her bones, known as metastasis, suggests that she lived with the disease for at least a year.
The question was-- which type of cancer might provoke that metastasis? After reviewing, the pieces of evidence conclude all the cancer that might provoke this kind of metastasis was breast cancer.
We are 99% sure that it was breast cancer.
NARRATOR: Not only is this the first conclusive evidence of breast cancer in ancient Egypt, it's the oldest discovered in the entire world-- 4,200 years old.
JIMÉNEZ-SERRANO: It was a surprise to realize that we have in our hands the oldest breast cancer of the world.
What this discovery shows us is that breast cancer was suffered in ancient times, also.
NARRATOR: This specific proof of the existence of breast cancer helps experts understand how disease spreads and mutates and how humans adapt to fight back.
COLLEEN: Cancer definitely occurred in the ancient world.
Having that definitively from Qubbet El-Hawa, that's an important step forward in understanding the change of disease in human populations across the time.
JOHN: If you can understand the genetic history of the disease, you might have a better chance of controlling the future development of the disease.
JIMÉNEZ-SERRANO: This discovery makes us closer to ancient Egyptians.
Ancient Egyptians and us, we, unfortunately-- we are suffering the same illness.
NARRATOR: A simple grave is excavated on the banks of the Nile, revealing something completely out of the ordinary.
A woman who's buried on her side with her knees pulled up to her chest.
NARRATOR: Is it ritual or did she actually die in this position? Advanced 3-D bone analysis suggests she may not be buried alone.
How did she die? Did she die in childbirth? NARRATOR: November 2018 -- a joint archaeological team from Italy and America are excavating by the banks of the Nile near the temple of Kom Ombo, 30 miles north of Aswan, when they discover the simple grave of a young woman.
JOHNSTON: The woman is buried in a contracted position with her knees drawn up to her chest.
GODENHO: At this particular period, people are buried in coffins, they're stretched out, elongated, usually one person per coffin.
This type of arrangement you don't see.
NARRATOR: Egyptologists know the grave as part of a cemetery that in use for 200 years by wandering tribes.
Now they uncover tiny clues to the story of this desert nomad.
GODENHO: The dating of the tomb's quite difficult because there aren't many grave goods in there, but the pottery suggests that we're dealing with the new kingdom dates, so around about 3,500 years ago.
CARROLL: She was buried with grave goods-- two vessels-- and within the vessels, they contained beads, so this could possibly have been an indication of what she did in life.
JOHNSTON: We're dealing with someone who is perhaps herself a bead maker, someone who is a fairly low-ranking artisan.
NARRATOR: The team need the assistance of osteoarchaeologists-- experts in the study of ancient bones.
It's their job to use advanced 3-D mapping technology to examine the find in immense detail but without disturbing the actual remains.
GODENHO: The fact that it's largely skeletal remains that are in the tomb means that scientists have had access directly to the bones, and so they've been able to suggest that the woman died at around about 20 years old-- it seems that way.
NARRATOR: The high-resolution 3-D scanning of the grave reveals something extraordinary and sad-- the bones of another tiny body-- a baby.
And the child is still within her body.
CARROLL: The bones of the baby are quite small, and they can be lost quite easily.
But in this, it was clearly evident that the bones were there, so really, really quite a discovery.
This offers the chance to ask new questions that have remained unanswered in the past.
CARROLL: What could this discovery potentially tell us about childbirth and pregnancy in ancient Egypt? NARRATOR: The ancient Egyptians understood human anatomy, but medically, what did they know about pregnancy and childbirth? In Copenhagen, Denmark, experts are painstakingly reassembling a large collection of ancient medical writings known as the Carlsberg papyrus.
This could unlock the secrets of ancient Egyptians' knowledge of pregnancy.
JOHNSTON: It's corpus of medical knowledge, and it contains some astonishing information.
In particular, they make a reference to pregnancy testing in ancient Egypt.
JOHNSTON: The Carlsberg papyrus suggests that a woman can determine if she's pregnant or not by taking two bags-- one containing barley, the other wheat-- and urinating into each of them.
If either bag begins to sprout, then the woman is pregnant.
NARRATOR: Astonishingly, modern research proves that this ancient pregnancy test is 70% accurate.
Essentially, the estrogen in the urine-- if it's there, if you're pregnant-- then it will make the crop grow.
NARRATOR: At Kom Ombo, the team initially wondered if the baby was placed in the grave after death, but the high-resolutions scans provide a tragic answer.
This woman was not only pregnant when she died, she was actually in the middle of giving birth.
Somewhat shockingly, we can see that the baby is head-down and actually would've entered the birth canal, just about to be born when the mother died.
NARRATOR: What went wrong at the birth at Kom Ombo? Thousands of years later, the incredibly detailed scans of the grave may provide an answer.
GODENHO: For this individual, the hips do seem to be misaligned.
And given the mature-birth nature of the whole scene, this could be one of the causes of the trauma that we see.
CARROLL: Osteoarchaeologists have examined the bones and the skeleton, and the scientific evidence shows there was evidence in the pelvis area that it was possibly a fracture.
Now, this could've been earlier on in life, which essentially means that she would never have been able to have given birth naturally.
NARRATOR: Faced with the mother's fractured pelvis, ancient Egyptians simply would not have had the medical skills to intervene when the birth went tragically wrong.
JOHNSTON: The question remains, however, regarding the position of the mother in her grave-- she's buried in the contracted position with her knees drawn up to her chest.
Is this her still in the birthing position, or is she being buried in the time-honored fashion-- pre-dynastic burials, where people were buried fetus-like in order to enter the afterlife.
NARRATOR: After 3,500 years, the tragic truth of this woman and her child and the dangers of childbirth can finally be told with 21st-century technology.
Ancient Egypt sparkled with gold, silver, and precious jewels.
But amidst those treasures was another mysterious material called faience.
Faience was very magical for Egyptians.
JOHNSTON: It's a glorious, glorious material, and it's ubiquitous in museums throughout the world.
NARRATOR: Its unique blue glaze was desired by everyone, rich and poor.
But the secrets of how the Egyptians created this amazing material have remained hazy until now.
ALTAWEEL: Modern sciences can tell us a lot about faience creation.
We also can begin to understand the kind of chemicals they mix.
Can investigation of this ancient material finally reveal the Egyptians' advanced scientific knowledge? NARRATOR: For centuries, the dazzling blue of Egyptian faience has enthralled archeologists, art collectors, and scientists.
Astonishingly, it's not a precious stone or an element like silver or gold.
It's a man-made vitreous or glass-like material but invented thousands of years before glass.
TAJEDDIN: Faience is a vitreous material.
It's mistakenly described as ceramic, but it's not ceramic.
JOHNSTON: Faience is a spectacular glossy, shiny, deeply-colored Egyptian medium used for a variety of different purposes from the creation of shabtis for the tomb to furniture inlays.
Egyptians thought this material was from the gods.
It was a material that was not of human form.
NARRATOR: Blue was a revered color in ancient Egypt, treasured by both rich and poor.
It symbolized the sky, the universe, creation, and fertility.
ALTAWEEL: The blue color in ancient Egypt was extremely important.
It is a symbol of life.
Water, of course, is blue.
The Nile is blue.
It's a rare color, not very typically seen naturally.
JOHNSTON: For the ancient Egyptians, almost everything in their lives was magical.
Everything in their lives has religious purpose.
Faience was extraordinarily magical.
It was potent.
TAJEDDIN: It's the color of the sky, it's the color of the sea, it's the color of the Nile, and all of the sudden, they can handle it.
So that was, in a way, a magic.
NARRATOR: It's an amazing substance, all the more so because it was man-made.
But how did they make it? Using modern scientific analysis, we can now closely examine this famed material in the hope of revealing its secrets.
ALTAWEEL: There are a number of techniques one can use to understand the process of making faience as well their provenance.
For instance, you can use what's called x-ray fluorescence-- XRF-- technique that we use to look at the mineralogy, the composition of faience.
If you look at the profile of faience object, you will see the core made of quartz particles, and then on the surface, you see a complete phase of pure glass.
ALTAWEEL: Faience is not true glass in a sense that it's not a completely glass object.
It is a form of glass in that the surface itself is vitrified like a glass material.
NARRATOR: Zahed Tajeddin is an artist and archeologist fascinated with the science of faience.
He's been studying this remarkable substance right down to its component parts.
We can go and see the microstructure of the actual artifacts.
The main ingredient of faience is sand or crushed pebbles, so silica, quartz.
ALTAWEEL: You can take basically more or less sand, mix it with a few other chemicals, and make something that's shiny.
It's incredible.
NARRATOR: So, faience was made of sand, the most common material in Egypt.
But melting sand requires incredibly high temperatures, way beyond the ability of ancient Egyptians.
How did they do it? Modern scientists know they must have needed some kind of flux, a compound added to the sand which reduces the temperature needed to melt it.
Flux used in chemistry to reduce the melting temperature of certain elements.
So, quartz needs about 1,800 degree to change from solid state into liquid state.
If you add flux to it, it reduces that melting temperature to 900 degrees.
NARRATOR: But how did the Egyptians manage to halve the temperature needed to melt sand? What did they use as flux? Either by accident or trial and error, about 6,000 years ago, they discovered that a substance they would later use for mummification was the perfect flux to help melt sand-- salt, specifically, the salt crystals they gathered from the dry lake beds at Wadi Natrun, which gives this salt its name.
In Egypt, the natural substance natron exists in the Wadi Natrun.
So it may have been something they were experimenting with anyways, and they may have come upon this idea that, "hey, we can use this also for faience making.
" NARRATOR: It was one leap of genius for the ancient Egyptians to melt sand with natron to create faience.
It was another to realize the potential for mass production and make faience a luxury that everyone could own.
ALTAWEEL: Faience is one of those objects that anyone can get a hand on it.
Faience could literally be obtained in the markets.
You could find it on jewelry, you could find it on tiles, you could find it on statues.
So you begin to see faience everywhere.
TAJEDDIN: You can find them in the poorest households.
You find them in tombs, you find them in temples.
JOHNSTON: You've got access to faience jewelry, which gave them the beauty, the glory of the jewelry worn by the elite, worn by the king, but at a much more affordable cost.
NARRATOR: One mystery remains-- the intense shining blue glaze of Egyptian faience.
How did they create it? As part of his ongoing investigation, Zahed Tajeddin experiments with different chemical compounds and processes.
The blue color of faience really comes from the addition of minor amount of copper oxide.
NARRATOR: But there's a problem when creating this magic mixture.
TAJEDDIN: You end up with a paste that's almost impossible to work with.
It's very runny, like toothpaste.
NARRATOR: The ingenious Egyptians found a solution.
Using a technique called "open-faced molding," the paste is exposed to the open air, which initiates a chemical reaction.
TAJEDDIN: You just leave it to dry, and what happens then, natural phenomenon, it fluoresces.
So all the salt immigrate to the surface, and we have high concentrations of this salt on the surface.
NARRATOR: The faience figure is then put into a kiln at 900 degrees overnight.
In the fire, that high concentration of flux on the surface of the quartz will melt only the surface.
And that's where you find the blue glaze on the surface.
And then you open your kiln next day to find a dazzling, beautiful, bright object right in front of you.
NARRATOR: The mystery of faience has been revealed as a masterly grasp of complex chemistry.
For me, as a sculptor, I'm very curious about how the Egyptians could work out all this secret.
ALTAWEEL: Faience is much more than the sum of its parts.
It shows us what people were like, what they enjoyed in life, the things they wanted to decorate themselves with, the connections they had with the gods.
All these things become evident through faience.
A little faience deity might be the most extraordinarily beautiful thing that you have in your home, has its own intrinsic magical purpose and meaning.
NARRATOR: In a miracle of science, the ancient Egyptians created timeless beauty.
A tiny vial once owned by the pharaoh Hatshepsut has remained unopened for thousands of years.
The stopper appeared still to be in place.
NARRATOR: But when modern science finally investigates the contents, it uncovers something unexpected.
The analysis of the material in this flask revealed shocking results.
NARRATOR: What's inside leads egyptologists to ask an extraordinary question.
Did Hatshepsut inadvertently kill herself with her own cosmetics? NARRATOR: 2009-- a tiny bottle is found among a collection of tomb valuables at the Egyptian museum in Bonn, Germany.
It is 3,500 years old.
This little flask is inscribed with a very short, simple hieroglyphic inscription giving us the name of pharaoh Hatshepsut.
Hatshepsut was the great royal wife of pharaoh Thutmosis II.
When Thutmosis II died and was succeeded by Thutmosis iii as the new king-- he was only a boy at the time-- Hatshepsut was appointed to be his regent.
But she quickly assumed the throne in her own right and came to rule Egypt as a female pharaoh.
NARRATOR: When her husband died, queen Hatshepsut became one of the most powerful women to rule Egypt.
However, she chose to rule the kingdom not as a woman but as a man.
JOHNSTON: She presents herself as entirely male, so she wears the nemes headdress, she wears the false beard, she wears the shendyt kilt.
GODENHO: Hatshepsut had a very successful reign, and while she was in office, it appeared that Egypt functioned well.
NARRATOR: Hatshepsut's power may have angered her stepson, waiting to be old enough to take over the throne himself.
But when she died, her name and memory were literally chiseled out of the historical records.
Hatshepsut's mummy was well-hidden by her allies for safety.
So modern egyptologists actually found many of her personal possessions, including this tiny flask, before they found and identified her.
When experts examined this small bottle bearing the name of Hatshepsut, they noticed that the stopper appeared still to be in place.
In other words, it had been sealed and never opened since the type of Hatshepsut's life.
GODENHO: And this has never really been investigated for many years.
We just thought it must be perfume because it looks like a perfume bottle.
NARRATOR: Museum staff now want to see what, if anything, is inside this small flask.
But how can they do that without damaging the priceless object? A German team in Bonn university have conducted some analysis on this flask and use a ct scanner from the radiography department.
NAUNTON: The scan shows that, inside the bottle, there was the remains of some kind of residual liquid.
In other words, some of the contents of the jar from Hatshepsut's lifetime was still in there.
NARRATOR: If there's some way the university team can get a sample of the original contents, they believe it might be possible to re-create Hatshepsut's 3,500-year-old scent.
JOHNSTON: The flask was passed on to the ear, nose, and throat department, where one of the professors inserted an endoscope through the seal and removed a tiny amount of the contents.
NARRATOR: The results are not what they expected.
NAUNTON: And they found, to their surprise, that this substance was composed of nutmeg oil, palm oil, fatty acids.
JOHNSTON: The researchers very quickly realized that what they were looking at was not, in fact, a perfume but some form of skin cream.
NARRATOR: This discovery, that the flask contains a soothing skin cream, is not a coincidence.
Studies of Hatshepsut's relatives show that inflammatory skin disease ran in the family.
Examination of the mummies of Hatshepsut's immediate family-- Thutmosis I, her father, Thutmosis II, her half-brother and husband-- seemed to indicate that that particular branch of the family suffered from some form of congenital skin condition.
So we can suggest that Hatshepsut perhaps was suffering from some kind of skin condition that was alleviated by these oils.
NARRATOR: The mummy of Hatshepsut herself was found in 1903 but was only positively identified more than a century later in Cairo.
The team immediately begin an exhaustive set of scans to determine her cause of death.
JOHNSTON: A ct scan of the recently- identified mummy of Hatshepsut has shown that she was a comparatively unhealthy woman as she suffered from diabetes, she suffered from arthritis.
And it seems apparent that she died as a result of cancer of the bone.
NARRATOR: 2,000 miles away in Germany, the team analyzing the ancient skin cream make a chilling discovery.
Chemical analysis and spectroscopy reveal the presence of highly toxic chemical compounds.
As the Germans have looked in more detail, they found some other elements in there as well, in particular, hydrocarbons derived from coal tar.
So quite abrasive elements to have having in with skin cream.
NAUNTON: More worryingly, perhaps, for the person who had been using it, the residue also contained a creosote-like sort of tarry substance that we know can cause cancer.
NARRATOR: We now know Hatshepsut definitely had cancer.
Is it possible that she was poisoning herself to death without knowing it? Hatshepsut would perhaps have been unaware, though, that while the skin condition was perhaps being alleviated by these oils, the tarry substance might actually have been doing her far more harm and may have led to a cancer.
NARRATOR: With the help of forensic science, the tiniest artifact ends up revealing one of the greatest mysteries of ancient Egypt-- the death of one of its most famous pharaohs.
Near the valley of the kings, a new and lavish burial site is unearthed.
Is this the tomb of pharaoh, king, or queen? This is a privileged position for high-ranking members of the elite.
Who is this individual that has been buried in such splendor? NARRATOR: This may be the tomb of a craftsman.
But what kind of skills did he have that earned him a place alongside the pharaohs? GODENHO: Why would a craftsman have his tomb in one of the most prestigious burial grounds in new kingdom Egypt? NARRATOR: 2017-- Dra Abu El-Naga, an archeological site on the west bank of the Nile, not far from the famous valley of the kings.
Excavation is underway of a newly-discovered tomb.
GODENHO: Inside of that tomb are the mummies of a man and his wife, and this tomb seems to date to around about 3,500 years ago, so we're talking about the new kingdom.
NARRATOR: This was a private burial site reserved for the rich and powerful.
On entering further into the tomb, the researchers discover various pieces of jewelry, funerary masks, and 150 shabtis.
Shabtis are ubiquitous in museums throughout the world, and they serve the purpose of carrying out the chores of the deceased in the afterlife.
What this suggests, therefore, is that the tomb owners were relatively high-ranking.
These were members of the elite.
NARRATOR: Archeologists scour the tomb for clues to its owners' identity.
GODENHO: A statue was found-- a group statue-- of the man and his wife and one of their children, and that tells us what this man's job was.
He was a craftsman and, in particular, he worked with gold.
He was a goldsmith.
JOHNSTON: It's comparatively unusual to find an artisan of this sort in such a splendid tomb.
But he's a goldsmith, and therefore that suggests that he has a certain status in society.
NARRATOR: The craftsman name-- Amememhat-- refers to the sun god Amun, and gold itself was regarded as the divine metal of the gods.
For egyptologists, it's a sign a goldsmith's skills were seen as magical, almost god-like.
NAUNTON: Gold was extremely highly prized in ancient Egypt, and the ability to work it into the finest quality of artifacts would have been highly valued as well.
GODENHO: Gold itself had a very high status in Egypt.
It's likened to the skin of the gods because gold doesn't tarnish, it doesn't rust.
So the person who works with that material obviously is right up there in the social elite.
NARRATOR: The extraordinary power and importance of gold is summed up in a single place-- the tomb of king Tutankhamen.
When it was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, he wrote, "I was struck dumb with amazement.
Everywhere, the glint of gold, wonderful things.
" Ogden: You only have to look at, say, what's found in Tutankhamen's tomb to realize that gold played an important part in the sort of funerary paraphernalia and presumably also in worship and honoring of the gods.
DODSON: His innermost coffin was solid gold, the mask on his mummy was solid gold, the other coffins had thick gold fold on them, and many, many other items had at least some bit of gold ornamentation on them.
NARRATOR: Now modern advances in scanning and chemical analysis allow us to reveal the mysteries of the Egyptian goldsmiths' craft.
Even today, their skill and ingenuity amaze, as well as their magical ability to fool the eye with gilding.
Gilding is a way of making something look like gold when it isn't gold the whole way through, and one reason is to fool people.
In the time of Amememhat, the gilding technique was to hammer gold very, very thin, and then glue it.
It's quite literally glue it onto another material.
NARRATOR: But one secret held by the Egyptian goldsmiths still astonishes modern experts-- how they were able to control and manipulate the very color of gold.
When you dig gold out of the ground, it's not pure gold.
It's not 100% pure gold.
It has a fair amount of silver in it.
So the gold that comes out of the ground can be anything from sort of a really strong, bright, bright gold yellow down to sort of paler, greeny colors depending on the amount of silver present.
NARRATOR: Modern x-ray fluorescence scanning can examine the minute elemental composition of Egyptian gold.
It proves that color differences were not always down to natural impurities but to the pure skill of a goldsmith like Amememhat.
They almost introduced what we would regard as impurities on purpose to change the color, to get the right sort of alloys, to get the color you wanted.
These kind of probably craft secrets were passed down from father to son.
NARRATOR: The Egyptian goldsmiths, like Amememhat, were not just geniuses of their craft but chemical alchemists, able to manipulate their raw material to create astonishing beauty.
JOHNSTON: He's a craftsman, but he's also a chemist.
He is so many different things combined into one figure.
I think it's fair to say that these goldsmiths were not just expert craftsmen but also expert technicians.
NARRATOR: Amememhat the goldsmith came to be buried alongside the pharaohs he worked for, a final tribute to his unearthly, god-like skills.