January 24, 2006

Egyptologists Find Statue of Tutankhamun’s Grandmother

CAIRO -- Egyptologists have discovered a statue of Queen Ti, wife of one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs and grandmother to the boy-king Tutankhamun, at an ancient temple in Luxor, an Egyptian antiquities official said on Tuesday.

The official said the roughly 3,400 year-old statue was uniquely well preserved. Ti's husband, Amenhotep III, presided over an era which saw a renaissance in Egyptian art.

"It was a time of flourishing of art in ancient Egypt ... Behind a good man is a strong woman. And she was a very strong lady," said Sabry Abdel Aziz, head of the Pharaonic department at Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities.

Queen Ti was also mother to Akhenaten, the sun-worshipping pharaoh some credit with starting the world's first known monotheistic religion. Abdel Aziz said Queen Ti helped to prepare Akhenaten's son, Tutankhamun, for kingship.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the United States discovered the 160 cm (five-foot) high black granite statue at the Temple of Mut in the ancient temple complex in Karnak.

The statue is missing its legs but is otherwise well preserved, Aziz said. It was buried under about half a meter of rocks and sand.

A number of cartouches, or royal name signs, of Amenhotep III were found on the statue, and the statue's design and features allowed researchers to identify it as a new kingdom 18th-dynasty statue of Queen Ti, Aziz said.

Cartouches of a later king also on the statue indicated it may have been re-used about 300 years later by a 21st dynasty ruler.