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Persian Princess

The Persian Princess or Persian Mummy is a murder victim.


  • Discovery 1
  • Identification 2
  • Ownership 3
  • Doubts 4
  • Fate 5
  • References 6


The mummy was found October 19, 2000. Pakistani authorities were alerted to a videotape recorded by Ali Aqbar, in which he claimed to have a mummy for sale. When questioned by the police, Aqbar told them where the mummy was located; at the house of tribal leader Wali Mohammed Reeki in Kharan, Baluchistan near the border of Afghanistan. Reeki claimed he had received the mummy from an Iranian named Sharif Shah Bakhi, who had said that he had found it after an earthquake near Quetta. The mummy had been put up for sale in the black antiquities market for 600 million rupee, the equivalent of $11 million. Reeki and Aqbar were accused of violating the country's Antiquities Act, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.[1]


In a press conference on October 26, archaeologist Ahmad Hasan Dani of Islamabad's Quaid-e-Azam University announced that the mummy seemed to be a princess dated circa 600 BC. The mummy was wrapped in ancient Egyptian style, and rested in a gilded wooden coffin with cuneiform carvings inside a stone sarcophagus. The coffin had been carved with a large faravahar image. The mummy was atop a layer of wax and honey, was covered by a stone slab and had a golden crown on its brow.[1] An inscription on the golden chest plate claimed that she was the relatively unknown Rhodugune, a daughter of king Xerxes I of Persia and a member of the Achaemenid dynasty.[2]

Archaeologists speculated that she might have been an Egyptian princess married to a Persian prince, or a daughter of Cyrus the Great of Achaemenid dynasty of Persia. However, because mummification had been primarily an Egyptian practice, they had not encountered any mummies in Persia before.[1]


The governments of Iran and Pakistan soon began to argue about the ownership of the mummy. The Taliban of Afghanistan also made a claim. People in Quetta demanded that the police should return the mummy to them.[1]

In November 2000, the mummy was placed in display in the National Museum of Pakistan.


News of the Persian Princess prompted American archaeologist Oscar White Muscarella to come out about an incident the previous March when he was shown photographs of a similar mummy. Amanollah Riggi, a middleman working in behalf of an unidentified antiquities dealer in Pakistan, had approached him, claiming its owners were a Zoroastrian family who had brought it to the country. The seller had claimed that it was a daughter of Xerxes, based on a translation of the cuneiform of the breastplate.[1]

The cuneiform text on the breastplate contained a passage from the Interpol through the FBI.[1]

When Pakistani professor Ahmad Dani, director of the Institute of Asian Civilizations in Islamabad, studied the item, he realized the corpse was not as old as the coffin. The mat below the body was about five years old. He contacted Asma Ibrahim, the curator of the National Museum of Pakistan, who investigated further. During the investigation, Iran and the Taliban repeated their demands. The Taliban claimed that they had apprehended the smugglers that had taken the mummy out of Afghanistan.

The inscriptions on the breastplate were not in proper grammatical Persian. Instead of a Persian form of the daughter's name, Wardegauna, the forgers had used a Greek version Rhodugune.

  1. ^ a b c d e f Romey, Kristin M.; Rose, Mark (January–February 2001). "Special Report: Saga of the Persian Princess". Archaeology (Archaeological Institute of America) 54 (1). 
  2. ^ a b c The Mystery of the Persian Mummy. BBC Two. 20 September 2001. (transcript)
  3. ^ Khan, Aamer Ahmed (5 August 2005). "Burial for Pakistan's fake mummy". BBC News.
  4. ^ Pakistan Press Foundation (December 31, 2008) "Mummified remains of woman buried"


The body was eventually buried in the first half of 2008, following years of fruitless waiting for approval from authorities.[4]

The Edhi Foundation took custody of the body, and on August 5, 2005, announced that it was to be interred with proper burial rites.[3]


Ibrahim published her report on April 17, 2001. In it, she stated that the "Persian princess" was in fact a modern woman about 21–25 years of age, who had died around 1996, possibly killed with a blunt instrument to the neck. Her teeth had been removed after death, and her hip joint, pelvis and backbone damaged, before the body had been filled with powder. Police began to investigate a possible murder and arrested a number of suspects in Baluchistan.[2]


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