Has the mummy of ancient Egypt's best-known queen been identified at last?

EGYPTOLOGISTS think they have identified the mummy of Hatshepsut, the most famous queen to rule ancient Egypt, found in a humble tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, will hold a news conference in Cairo tomorrow to announce what may be the most important find in the area since the discovery of King Tutankhamun.

An archaeologist, who asked not to be named, said the candidate for identification as the mummy of Hatshepsut was one of two females found in 1903 in a small tomb believed to be that of Hatshepsut's wetnurse, Sitre In.

Several Egyptologists have speculated over the years that one of the mummies was that of the queen, who ruled between 1503 and 1482BC - at the height of ancient Egypt's power.

The archaeologist said Hawass would present new evidence for identification, but not all Egyptologists were convinced he would be able to prove his case.

"It's based on teeth and body parts. It's an interesting piece of scientific deduction that might point to the truth," he said.

The Egyptologist Elizabeth Thomas speculated many years ago that one of the mummies was Hatshepsut's, because the positioning of the right arm over her chest suggested royalty.

Her mummy may have been hidden in the tomb for safekeeping because her stepson and successor, Tuthmosis III, was trying to obliterate her memory.

Donald Ryan, an Egyptologist who rediscovered the tomb in 1989, said this month there were many possibilities for the identities of the two female mummies found in the tomb, known as KV 60. "Both of the KV 60 mummies are in Cairo now and are being examined in various clever ways that very well might shed light on these questions," he said.

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