June 14, 2021
Mummy of Ramessses II Had to Have a Passport Issued to Fly to France

Mummy of Ramesses II Had to Have a Passport Issued to Fly to France

Ramesses II is considered one the greatest and influential pharaohs of ancient Egypt. His ruling period was 12th century BC for approximately 66 years and in his time, he accomplished so much that no other pharaohs did. Egyptologists of the nineteenth century nicknamed him ‘Ramses the Great’ after discovering numerous archaeological sites in modern Egypt, Sudan and Palestine. There were many temples, monuments, palaces and shrines built in his honor. Even after death, he continued to be famous. The mummy of Ramses was discovered in 1881 at the tomb of a high priest called Pinedjem II. The priest came almost 400 years after the reign of the great pharaoh. After the discovery, Ramses’ body was in perfect condition. And the most interesting thing is, Ramessesis the only mummy with a passport and that also issued by a modern government.

About Ramesses II

We already know that Ramesses was the greatest pharaohs in his era. Hewas the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty which is the second dynasty of ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom. His father was Seti I who was also very powerful but Ramesses II succeeded his father in his early 20s. Seti I appointed his son as the military general at the age of 10 and at the age of 14, Ramesses II became the Prince Regent. Ramesses II was born around 1303 BC and ruled for almost 66 years which makes him the longest ruler in the history of ancient Egypt. His successors and new Egyptians recognized him as the “Great ancestor.” Later, only one pharaoh of the Old Kingdom called Pepi II surpassed his record by ruling 94 years. Ramesses is renowned for many achievements apart from ruling. He successfully campaigned against the enemies of Egypt. He defeated the Nubians of the south of Egypt and Hittites in Anatolia. He also made some remarkable monuments named Abu Simbel and Ramesseum that are still surviving.

Egypt - Statue of Ramses II
Statue of Ramesses II ( Wikimedia Commons)

The mummy 

Like many other pharaohs, Ramesses II was buried in the Valley of the Kings, on the west bank of the Nile, across from Thebes. His tomb is called KV7. His mummy was transferred by the Egyptian priests to the mummy cache of Deir el-Bahri. Later his mummy was found in 1881 and it was seen that his skin, as well as most of his hair, was entirely preserved. His mummy was kept in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in 1885.  Later, for various reasons, the condition of the mummy began to deteriorate. One of the reasons was the humidity of the room where his body was kept before. The body was infected with bacteria and started showing signs of decay. The Egyptian authorities started searching for experts Egyptologists and restorers who had the ability to preserve the old body. Such professionals were found in France. During the process of finding appropriate treatment, the museum officials agreed with French specialists that the mummy needs proper care to preserve the relic. So, Paris was the place where the mummy would get appropriate treatment.

Under Egyptian law, even dead individuals have to have proper documents and passports before they leave the country. So, when the mummy needed to go to France, the necessity of the passport came in front. It was said that these documents would ensure the mummy’s legal protection so that it would return to the country safely. It was probably the thought that once the mummy enters France, they wouldn’t give it back to Egypt. A living person might not make a passport to get to another country, but for a mummy?? There is no escape. So, the passport was made!

The Dead King Gets a Passport

Under the strict circumstances, Ramesses II was issued a passport by the Egyptian government, and it became the first mummy to receive a passport. The mummy is prominent for listing the occupation as ‘King (deceased)’ apart from having a photo of Ramesses II’s face. The mummy of Ramesses II left for France in 1976. When the pharaoh arrived in France, the mummy was received at the Paris–Le Bourget Airport with the full martial honors. Alive or dead, if any king enters France on official business is entitled to such reception. The mummy was then transported to the Paris Ethnological Museum for proper examination of its condition. The researchers found out that the worsening of the mummy was done by a fungal infection. Ramesses II’s mummy was infested with 89 types of mushrooms. After examining, the mummy was given appropriate treatments for preservation.
Passport of Ramesses II
The Passport of Ramesses II (Source – .vintag.es)
After the treatment for its deterioration, further examinations were done on the mummy. The examination result showed that the pharaoh was about 1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches) tall and he had red hair and fair skin. In addition, some of his diseases were also found. Such as, it was said that he was suffering from arthritis, as well as a tooth abscess. Moreover, it was also found out that Ramesses II had ankylosing spondylitis, long-term inflammation of the joints of the spine, which would have made him walk with a hunched back during his later years.
After the analyses of the mummy were completed, it was flown back to Egypt and returned safely to the Cairo Museum.
Featured Image: ” Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt in Abu Simbel” – (Wikimedia Commons)
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