Sarcophagus of the Hathor Priestess Henhenet

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 11
early reign of Mentuhotep II
ca. 2051–2030 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Mentuhotep II, Pit 11 (Henhenet), EEF 1906–1907
Limestone, sandstone, paint
H. 97 cm (38 3/16 in); w. 105 cm (41.5/16 in); l. 261 cm (102 3/4 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1907
Accession Number:
07.230.1a, b
  • Description

    Henhenet was one of six royal females who were buried in shaft tombs beneath the platform of King Mentuhotep II's temple at Deir el Bahri. Her massive sarcophagus is made of several limestone slabs set on a sandstone base. The lid, which belonged originally to one of the other royal ladies, Kawit, consists of three parts. Each of these is pierced by two holes through which suspension ropes were slotted for lowering the piece into place. The inscriptions around the sarcophagus box were first painted green, then outlined in black on two sides; the third side was started but left unfinished.
    When found, there was still a wooden coffin inside the sarcophagus; within this was Henhenet's robbed mummy. According to Edouard Naville, the excavator, she was "lying on the cloth wrappings. Her hands and feet are small and delicately formed, her hair short and straight." The mummy was sent to Cairo in 1923. It was studied there by Dr. Douglas Derry, who concluded that Henhenet had been about 21 years old when she died in childbirth.
    Above each of the shafts in which the royal females were buried were small shrines built to house statues of the deceased (see 07.230.1d).

  • Provenance

    Excavated by Edouard Naville on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1906-1907. Acquired by the EEF in the division of finds. Acquired by the Museum from the EEF through subscription, 1907.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History