By KATARINA KRATOVAC
Associated Press Writer
The long-overlooked mummy of an obese woman, who likely suffered from diabetes and liver cancer, has been identified as Queen Hatshepsut, the most powerful female pharaoh to rule ancient Egypt.
A single tooth was key to solving one of the greatest mysteries of ancient Egypt, Zahi Hawass, the country's antiquities chief, said Wednesday.
If fully confirmed - DNA tests are still ongoing - the discovery could be the most significant find since archeologists discovered King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, experts say.
Hatshepsut ruled for 20 years in the 15th Century B.C., dressing like a man and wearing a fake beard. A monumental builder, she wielded more power than two other famous ancient Egyptian women, Cleopatra and Nefertiti, who unlike her never took on the title of pharoah.
But when she died and her rule in the 18th Dynasty ended, all traces of her mysteriously disappeared, including her mummy.
In 1903, a mummy was found lying on the ground next to the sarcophagus holding the mummy of the queen's wet nurse in a tomb in Egypt's Valley of Kings burial ground in Luxor. For decades, that mummy was left unidentified and remained in the tomb because it was thought to be insignificant.
A year ago, Hawass began a search for Hatshepsut's mummy. At the same time the Discovery Channel, which is to broadcast an exclusive documentary on the discovery in July, gave Egypt US$5 million (â‚¬3.7 million) for the creation of a DNA lab to test mummies that was set up in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Two months ago, the unidentified mummy was brought from Luxor to the museum for DNA testing. Hawass said his first clue that it could be the lost queen was the position of its left hand on her chest - a traditional sign of royalty in ancient Egypt.
Experts then made a stunning match. A tooth that had been found in relic box displaying Hatshepsut's insignia and containing embalmed organs fit a gap in the mummy's jaw. Still uncompleted DNA testing also has shown similarities between the mummy and the mummy of Hatshepsut's grandmother, which previously was identified.
"We are 100 percent certain" the mummy belongs to Hatshepsut, Hawass told The Associated Press.