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Tiye, queen of Egypt, dowager of hypertension

The “great royal wife” of Amenhotep III, Tiye was as much his chancellor as first lady. A woman of power. Mother of Akhenaton and at least five other children, grandmother of Tutankhamen while not herself not of royal blood, Tiye played a prominent role in Egyptian diplomacy and religious reform.

A 3000 year old statue in good condition of the queen was discovered in 2006 in the Luxor temple by archaeologists from the John Hopkins University in the United States. In black granite measuring 1.5 metres high, it approximates to her actual size. Tiye’s mummified body has been studied with great attention. Damaged by looters and devoid of its coffin, her long wavy hair is nevertheless preserved.

Revealing heart and kidneys

It has been possible to carry out an extremely detailed retrospective medical examination. This woman who died aged about 50, a significant figure in Ancient Egypt, would appear to be the earliest example of someone with hypertension. Study of her body by Long in 1931 revealed extensive atherosclerosis reaching the aorta and the coronary arteries, but also renal arteriosclerosis which is without a doubt related to high blood pressure. The dehydrated heart, no bigger than a hen’s egg, shows a calcified mitral valve and traces of fibrous areas in the myocardium, evidence of a heart attack.