Queen Hatshepsut: Death by Moisturizer?

Queen Hatshepsut was one of the most successful pharaohs in ancient Egypt and one of the most powerful women of all time. She died in 1458 BC of unknown causes. Now, a new theory proposes to solve this mystery. Did Hatshepsut moisturize herself to death?

The Mysterious Flask of Hatshepsut?

I wrote about Hatshepsut a little over a week ago. That article, Did Ancient Egyptians Conquer the Seas?, discussed her role in an overseas expedition to the mysterious Land of Punt. Now, she’s back in the news for something else…namely her own death.

German scholars recently announced the discovery of creosote and asphalt in a flask that supposedly belonged to Hatshepsut. These are carcinogenic substances and known to cause cancer.

The rest of the flask contained palm and nutmeg oil as well as polyunsaturated fats. Taken together, the contents indicate that the flask might have once held some sort of ancient skin care lotion. The research team believes that Hatsheptsut suffered from a chronic skin disease. By using the lotion as a salve, she exposed herself to the dangerous substances over an extended period of time. This ultimately caused her to contract cancer.

There is some outside evidence to support this new theory. Hatshepsut’s family apparently suffered from genetic skin diseases. Also, assuming that the 2007 identification of her mummy is correct, then Hatshepsut clearly suffered from a skin disease of her own as well as bone cancer.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Not everyone is convinced. Researchers have yet to find traces of the offending substances in her bone marrow. Skeptics can also point to a number of weak links in the evidence chain. We don’t know for sure that the flask is authentic or that Hatshepsut used it. Also, we can’t be positive that the mummy belongs to her. Finally, even if the mummy does belong to Hatshepsut, the so-called skin disease she appears to have suffered from may be nothing more than residue left over from the mummification process.

Still, the research team has put together an intriguing case. Further tests and analysis are of course required. But at the moment, it seems quite possible that Hatshepsut may have, in effect, moisturized herself to death.

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