Gold Diadem of Princess Khenmet

The diadem of princess Khenmet is formed of a series of horizontal and vertical decorations made of gold with inlays of semiprecious stones and glass paste. Each horizontal element is composed of a rosette flanked by two bell-shaped flowers heavily inlaid with carnelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli.

This decoration is repeated eight times. Two delicate ornaments were applied to the front and back of the diadem. The first is the branch of a tree.

Gold Diadem of Princess Khenmet
Gold Diadem of Princess Khenmet

It is formed with a small gold tube onto which gold leaves were fused alternating with small flowers. The second ornament depicts the vulture goddess, Nekhbet, with her wings outspread as a sign of protection. She has two Shen signs, which symbolize eternity, gripped in her talons.

Princess Khenmet was buried with a gilded dagger as well as a mace. Some elite women in similar ‘Court Type’ graves elsewhere had daggers, too, and often other weapons: maces, bows, arrows, and even spears.

In the small chamber next to the sarcophagus were found further personal adornments. These included another exquisite diadem and parts of a necklace made in gold. The latter is most likely not an Egyptian work of art, but was perhaps produced in Crete.

The father of Khenmet is uncertain. From the position of the burial, next to the pyramid of Amenemhat II it seems likely that she was his daughter.

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhat II, ca. 1932-1898 BC. Gold, semi-precious stones and glass paste. From the Tomb of Khenmet, Funerary Complex of Amenemhat II at Dahshur. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 31105,6,12