Gold Mask of Shoshenq II

The death mask of Shoshenq II was found on the king’s mummy but was seriously damaged. It is made from a thick sheet of gold with hollow spaces for the eyes and the eyebrows where glass paste was to be inserted.

The gold mask was fixed to the mummy by five small perforated tenons, three on the forehead and two below the ears. The facial features depict the king as a young man, in accordance with Egyptian artistic traditions, indicating that the deceased is to be resurrected at this young age.

Gold Mask of King Shoshenq II
Gold Mask of Shoshenq II

Shoshenq II was the only ruler of the 22nd Dynasty whose tomb was not plundered by tomb robbers. His final resting place was discovered within an antechamber of Psusennes I’s tomb at Tanis by Pierre Montet in 1939. Montet removed the coffin lid of Shoshenq II on March 20, 1939, in the presence of king Farouk of Egypt himself.

It proved to contain many jewel-encrusted bracelets and pectorals, along with a beautiful hawkheaded silver coffin and a gold funerary mask. The facemask had been placed upon the head of the king. Montet later discovered the intact tombs of two 21st Dynasty kings (Psusennes I and Amenemope) a year later in February and April 1940 respectively.

Gold Mask of Shoshenq II
Gold Mask of Shoshenq II. Photo: Andrea Jemolo

Shoshenq II’s prenomen, Heqakheperre Setepenre, means “The manifestation of Re rules, the chosen one of Re.”

Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, reign of Shoshenq II, ca. 887-885 BC. From Tanis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 72163