Dagger of Princess Ita

In the tomb of Princess Ita, daughter of Amenemhat II, this dagger was found in her coffin, together with a collection of jewels that included bracelets, anklets, a necklace, and the remains of a belt.

The pommel is in the shape of a light crescent of lapis lazuli. The hilt is beaten gold and is inlaid with disks of lapis lazuli and green feldspar. The disks are inlaid with diagonal crosses of thin gold and between the disks are curvilinear squares inlaid with light brown carnelian.

Dagger of Princess Ita
Dagger of Princess Ita. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 31069

The elegant bronze blade is mounted in the solid gold shoulder and attached by three gold rivets. The tongue of the bronze blade and the shoulder strap fit exactly into the hilt.

The form of the blade is Phoenician in origin, and the patterns on the handle were common in Crete. It has been suggested that the dagger was imported from Byblos in Phoenicia or from Crete, or was manufactured in Egypt by a foreign craftsman at the royal court.

The undisturbed tomb of Princess Ita contained a precious collection of jewelry, most of which lay among the wraps of the mummy. The small hoard of treasure included bracelets, anklets, a necklace, a belt, and this refined dagger.

The lapis lazuli pommel is shaped like a crescent moon while the grip is formed by a gold tube decorated with inlays of carnelian, lapis lazuli, and amazonite and is fixed to the bronze blade by three small gold nails. It was probably a ceremonial object as it is not sufficiently strong to be used as a weapon.

Detail of the dagger of Princess Ita
Detail of the dagger

From the Tomb of Princess Ita next to the pyramid of king Amenemhat II at Dahshur. Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhat II, ca. 1914-1879 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 31069