Did Queen Hatshepsut Moisturize Herself to Death?


Ad Honoris
Mar 2009
Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
Tue Aug 23, 2011 03:43 PM ET
Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt's greatest female pharaoh, might have moisturized herself to death, according to controversial new research into the dried up contents of a cosmetic vial.

Researchers at the University of Bonn, Germany, found a highly carcinogenic substance in a flask of lotion housed at the University's Egyptian Museum.

The vessel, which featured an inscription saying it belonged to Hatshepsut, was long believed to have held perfume.

"After two years of research, it is now clear that the flacon was a kind of skin care lotion or even medication for a monarch suffering from eczema," the University of Bonn said in a statement.
The skin lotion's ingredients included large amounts of palm and nutmeg oil, polyunsaturated fats that can relieve certain skin diseases, and benzopyrene, an aromatic and highly carcinogenic hydrocarbon.

"Benzopyrene is one of the most dangerous substances we know," said pharmacologist Helmut Wiedenfeld

Read more here:
Did Queen Hatshepsut Moisturize Herself to Death? : Discovery News


Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
She may have been poisoned. She certainly had enough enemies, with so many people in Egypt opposed to a female pharaoh, and the fact that she favored the people she appointed so much. Perhaps some in the kingdom took offence at her claims of being a god's daughter.


Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
Welcome, Adams.

The thing I never could understand about Hatshepsut is how she was able to win over the population. I mean, a female pharaoh in those days was simply unacceptable.


Forum Staff
Oct 2011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Two notes:

Queen hatshepsut lived about 50 years and for a woman of that time this was a long life. Probably who knew her in the last years didn't note something odd or against nature in the fact she died at that age [I repeate: well aged for that historical moment].

So, it's possible that substances in lotions she used provoked her something which caused her death, why not?

The second note is about the relationship between Hatshepsut and the Egyptian people.

She acted as a Pharaoh, and the people saw a Pharaoh, a "divine" human [she was defined "The Good Goddes Maatkare", a name which recalls directly the conception of Ma'at. And she was the one to grant Ma'at to Egypt.

Egyptians were used to see and to worship female deities, sure usually these deities didn't put a woman on the throne ... but I don't think Egyptians limitated the horizon of the deities.

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
Southeast England
Welcome, Adams.

The thing I never could understand about Hatshepsut is how she was able to win over the population. I mean, a female pharaoh in those days was simply unacceptable.
She edged her way in. Started by acting as regent for her nephew, which was not that unusual, there had been female regents before her time. Then she just carried on ruling. Had herself portrayed in art as a normal pharaoh, with beard etc, which helped to keep her reign looking official.


Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
So I looked up benzopyrene, and it led me to Pitch.

I take it that this is what was in the bottle?

Pitch (resin) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

or Coal Tar?

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_tar"]Coal tar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

Wiki Claims it's still in use for skin rash of the scalp.

wikipedia said:
Also known as liquor carbonis detergens (LCD),[3] and liquor picis carbonis (Latin: coal tar solution) (LPC),[4][5] it can be used in medicated shampoo, soap and ointment, as a treatment for dandruff and psoriasis, as well as being used to kill and repel head lice. When used as a medication in the U.S., coal tar preparations are considered an OTC (over-the-counter drug) pharmaceutical and are subject to regulation by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Name brands include Denorex, Balnetar, Psoriasin, Tegrin, T/Gel, and Neutar. When used in the extemporaneous preparation of topical medications, it is supplied in the form of Coal Tar Topical Solution USP, which consists of a 20% w/v solution of coal tar in alcohol, with an additional 5% w/v of polysorbate 80;[6] this must then be diluted in an ointment base such as petrolatum.
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