The death of Seqenenre Tao is said to have indirectly led to the reunification of ancient Egypt, which was divided during the pharaoh's lifetime in the 16th century BC. Only now do we know what exactly that death entailed. Researchers studying the mummy of the pharaoh, first discovered in 1881, say the ruler of southern Egypt was likely captured in battle while trying to oust the north-controlling Hyksos, bound with his hands behind his back, then executed by multiple people carrying varied weapons. An X-ray performed in the 1960s showed the pharaoh—who died around the age of 40—had suffered only head injuries, leading to suggestions that he was executed, perhaps by the Hyksos king, or murdered in his sleep, per the Conversation. But new CT scans and other evidence suggest a death even more foul, which apparently motivated Seqenenre's successors.
His face and head showed potentially fatal cuts and other injuries believed to have come from an ax, ax handle, sword, dagger, and spear, all wielded at different angles, reports Live Science. This indicates "a ceremonial execution," which in turn suggests Seqenenre was "on the front line with his soldiers risking his life to liberate Egypt," says Dr. Sahar Saleem of Cairo University, whose research is published in Frontiers in Medicine, in Phys.org. This theory vibes with the pharaoh's nickname, "the Brave." Indeed, "Seqenenre's death motivated his successors to continue the fight to unify Egypt," Saleem says. Seqenenre's son and immediate successor, Kamose, was killed by the Hyksos, per Live Science. But another son, Ahmose I, would eventually expel the Hyksos, beginning the New Kingdom, which marked the peak of ancient Egypt's power. (The long-standing view of the Hyksos as barbarous invaders is changing.)