German researchers: toxic substance in flask belonging to ancient Egypt’s Hatshepsut

BERLIN–A German university says researchers have discovered a carcinogenic substance in a flask believed to have belonged to Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt 3,500 years ago, opening the possibility she may have accidentally poisoned herself.

The University of Bonn said Friday it spent two years researching the dried-out contents of the flask, which is part of its Egyptian Museum’s collection and bears an inscription saying it belonged to Hatshepshut.

It says the flask contains the kind of fatty acids used to relieve the kind of skin infections known to have troubled Hatshepsut’s family.

Researchers also found benzopyrene, an aromatic and highly carcinogenic hydrocarbon. They contend it’s possible the queen inadvertently poisoned herself with the substance if she used it to tackle skin disease.

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