Alabaster ointment jar inscribed for Hatshepsut

This beautifully rounded alabaster ointment jar is adorned with an inscription dedicated to the female king Hatshepsut.

“King’s Daughter, King’s Sister, God’s Wife, King’s Great Wife (principal queen), Hatshepsut, may she live and endure like Re forever.”

Alabaster ointment jar inscribed for Hatshepsut. Met Museum. 18.8.15
Alabaster ointment jar inscribed for Hatshepsut. Met Museum. 18.8.15

The latter part of the dedication was usually reserved for king’s alone, thus it is safe to presume this jar dates from Hatshepsut’s regency with her nephew king Thutmose III, who would become king alone after Hatshepsut’s death. It was in the Tomb of the Three Foreign Wives of Thutmose III where this ointment jar was found.

The tomb of Menhet, Menwi and Mertiintact was discovered in 1916 by Qurnawi locals. Their mummies and other organics such as wood had disintegrated due to water seeping into the tomb over the millennia but metal and stone objects had survived. Their jewellery and other burial goods were sold on the local and international antiquities market, where most were bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art between 1918 and 1988.

It is thought this jar may have been a funerary object rather than used in life, possibly created to adorn Hatshepsut’s cliff tomb in Western Thebes. However, Hatshepsut did seemingly have a tradition of dedicating items inscribed with her titulary to those dear to her, or those of importance to her reign and kingdom, such as the linen and vessels from the Tomb of Hatnefer and Ramose (Met Museum. 36.6.1–36.6.70). It is also proposed that the three foreign wives of Thutmose received tribute in the form of stone jars (Met Museum. 26.8.8).

The jar is made from travertine, also known as Egyptian alabaster, and is rather small at 12.3 cm (4 13/16 in.) in height and 12.8 cm (5 1/16 in.) in diameter.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Thutmose II to Year 7 of Thutmose III, c. 1492–1473 B.C.
Tomb of the Three Foreign Wives of Thutmose III, Wady Gabbanat el-Qurud.
Met Museum. 18.8.15