SAN DIEGO — Excavated
remains of a warrior slain around 2,200 years ago provide rare, physical
evidence of an uprising that’s described on the Rosetta Stone, scientists
“Most likely, the warrior we found was a casualty of the
ancient Egyptian revolt,” said archaeologist Robert Littman on November 22 at
the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
A team led by Littman, of the University of Hawaii at Manoa,
and anthropological archaeologist Jay Silverstein of the University of Tyumen
in Russia unearthed the man’s skeleton at the ancient city of Thmouis. That
city is now buried beneath a mound of earth and debris called Tell Timai in the
The Rosetta Stone, carved in 196 B.C., is famous for bearing
an official message in three scripts, including one in ancient Greek that
enabled scholars to decipher another written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
That message describes a military victory of Ptolemy V, a pharaoh from a powerful
Greek dynasty, against a faction of a native Egyptian revolt known from written
sources to have lasted from 206 B.C. to 186 B.C. Thmouis was located in a region
where battles in that revolt occurred.
Excavations in 2011 yielded the warrior’s skeleton. His body
had been thrown on the ground and covered with dirt, with no sign of a burial.
Healed and unhealed arm injuries and fractures elsewhere on the skeleton likely
resulted from combat near the time of death as well as years earlier, Littman
said. Near the skeleton, researchers found a burned arrowhead and burned
ballista balls, nearly baseball-sized stones that were hurled by catapults.
Littman suspects that the Thmouis warrior died at the time
of the Egyptian revolt. Coins excavated just above his remains date to between
180 B.C. and 170 B.C. Coins found just below his skeleton date to 205 B.C. or
It’s unclear whether Thmouis residents sided with the rebels
or the pharaoh, Littman said.