Time Capsule: The Silver Pharaoh – Psusennes I

PBS program, Secrets of the Dead, produced an episode entitled The Silver Pharaoh about the discovery of the royal tomb of Pharaoh Psusennes I. It was first aired on Public Broadcasting on November 3rd, 2010, an hour video that described the problems of archaeology during the turbulent 1930s and during World War II, focusing on the discovery of Pharaoh that represented the Third Intermediate Period (1064-664 BC) of the 21stDynasty of ancient Egypt. His name was Psusennes [Greek: Ψουσέννης] or Hor-Pasebakhaenniut [Egyptian: or-p3-sib3-ḫˁỉ–niwt] who ruled from Tanis [Biblical place: Zoan, called Dzann by Greeks]. His throne name was Akheperre Stepenamum [Great are the Manifestations of Ra, chosen of Amun].

{SOURCE: Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Peter Clayton, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1994, p. 178}
The pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty was also featured by National Geographic Channel (NatGeoTV) entitled The Silver Pharaoh Mystery.

Psusennes was the son of Pinedjem I and Henuttawy, the daughter of Rameses XI’s daughter. He married his sister, which was custom among pharaohs, Mutnedjmet.

His tomb was discoveredby Pierre Montet (1885-1966) intact in Tanis in 1940.
{SOURCE: Egyptian Mummies: Unravelling Secrets of an Ancient Art, Bob Brier, Wm & Morrow Co., Inc., NY, 1994, p. 145}
It was the greatest find since the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen, (18thDynasty) but was not provided the same public acclaim because headlines superseded the discovery with news of the Nazi storming across Europe and attacking Great Britain – the beginning of World War II.
The hero of this discovery was Jean Pierre Marie Montet, born on June 27th, 1885 and died June 19th, 1966 who was an accomplished French Egyptologist. He studied under the tutelage of Victor Loret at the University of Lyon. Between 1921 and 1924 he had excavated tombs of rulers from the Middle Kingdom period and between 1929 and 1939, he excavated at Tanis, Egypt where he found the royal necropolis of the 21st Dynasty and 22ndDynasty.
He had actually found three intact tombs of three Egyptian pharaohs: Psusennes I, Amenemope, and Shoshenq II, as well as the partially plundered tomb of Takelot I of Lower Egypt. He found completely plundered tombs of Osorkon IIand his son, Prince Hornakht. In May of 1940, all work had to stop as Montet received word that the Nazi army was beginning its occupation of France, and his wife and child was still there. When the war ended, Montet returned to Tanis and uncovered the intact tomb of General Wendebauendjed, the commander-in-chief of Psusennes I’s army. He was Professor of Egyptology at the University of Strasbourg from 1919 to 1948. From 1948 to 1956, he was a professor at the College de France in Paris. He died in Paris in 1966.
At Tanis, Montet discovered Pi-Ramesses stonework at Tanis and assumed he had discovered the lost ancient city whose true location was 30 kilometers south of the Montet site. However, Montet is credited for finding the City of Pi-Ramesseswhere Pharaoh Psusennes I relocated it.
The mummy of Psusennes was badly decomposed with only bones left in his sarcophagus because of the more wet climate of Lower Egypt. Examination by Dr. Douglass Derry, Anatomy Department, Cairo University in 1940 revealed that Psusennes was an old man when died. He had an abscess so extensive that it left a hole in his palate, his teeth were full of cavities, and the pharaoh suffered from arthritis, which probably crippled him in his final years.
{SOURCE: Egyptian Mummies: Unravelling the Secrets of an Ancient Art, Bob Brier, NY, 1994, p. 147}