Head of a woman

Head of a woman
Despite her body missing, this woman’s head showcases the talent of the Ancient Egyptian embalmers of her time. Her face is still serene and her hair is in perfect condition approximately 3000 years later.

Height: 6 inches; Width: 20cm; Depth: 22.5 cm
Material: organic material
Secondary material: resin, linen (?)

Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités égyptiennes, E 3442.

Head of a woman (momie de femme), discovered at Thebes in 1799. Little is known about the identity of the woman, but she dates from between the New Kingdom Period and Late Period (when the last Native rulers of Ancient Egypt held power), c. 1550–332 B.C.

Mummified head of a woman (momie de femme), discovered at Thebes in 1799. She dates from between the New Kingdom Period and Late Period (when the last Native rulers of Ancient Egypt held power), c.1550 – 332 B.C. Musée du Louvre. E 3442

In Ancient Egypt, it was common for individuals, both men and women, to be mummified and have their natural hair preserved. The ancient Egyptians placed great importance on personal grooming and appearance, even in the afterlife. As a result, the hair of mummified individuals was often carefully styled and maintained.

The preservation of natural hair in mummified remains provides valuable insights into ancient Egyptian hairstyles, hair care practices, and cultural norms surrounding beauty. These mummified individuals with their natural hair offer a glimpse into the diverse hairstyles and hair types that existed in Ancient Egypt.

In Ancient Egypt, mummification was a complex and intricate process that aimed to preserve the body for the afterlife. When it comes to the hair of the deceased, it was typically left intact and preserved as part of the mummification process.

Head of a woman
Identity unknown but her hair and face show an excellent preseveration attempt by the priests who mummified her.
Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités égyptiennes, E 3442.

The natural hair of the deceased was considered an important aspect of their identity and was often styled and adorned with various accessories. It was believed that the individual’s hair would continue to grow in the afterlife, so it was left undisturbed during the mummification process.

To ensure the preservation of the hair, embalmers would carefully clean and treat it with oils or resins. Sometimes, the hair would be braided or styled in specific ways, reflecting the individual’s social status or personal preferences. These hairstyles can provide valuable insights into the fashion and cultural practices of Ancient Egypt.

The natural hair of the deceased was respected and preserved during the mummification process, reflecting the significance placed on personal appearance and identity in ancient Egyptian culture.

It’s worth noting that there are various mummies and artefacts from Ancient Egypt that have been discovered and studied, each with its own unique characteristics and historical significance.

The New Kingdom, commonly known as the Egyptian Empire, was an ancient Egyptian nation that existed from the 16th to 11th centuries BC. This period in Egyptian history includes the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties. Radiocarbon dating has determined that the New Kingdom was established between 1570 and 1544 BC. The New Kingdom followed the Second Intermediate Period, which was superseded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was the most prosperous moment for the Egyptian people and represented the zenith of Egypt’s supremacy.

Head of a woman
The woman’s hair is still present upon her skull. Clearly visible are her maghony brown wavy tresses growing from her scalp and wrapped together at the back of her head.
Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités égyptiennes, E 3442.

The Late Period of Ancient Egypt alludes to the final flowering of native Egyptian monarchs after the Third Intermediate Period in Psamtik I’s 26th Saite Dynasty, but it also encompasses the period of Achaemenid Persian dominance over Egypt following Cambyses II’s conquest in 525 BC. The Late Period lasted from 664 BC to 332 BC, after a period of foreign domination by the Nubian 25th Dynasty and beginning with a brief period of Neo-Assyrian suzerainty, with Psamtik I governing as a vassal. The period concluded with Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire and the founding of the Ptolemaic dynasty by his general Ptolemy I Soter, a Hellenistic diadochi from Macedon in northern Greece.

It was Nectanebo I who overthrew Nepherites II in 380 BC, and the Achaemenid ruler Artaxerxes III invaded Egypt in 343 BC, disestablishing the kingdom. This made it Ancient Egypt’s last native dynasty; following Nectanebo II’s overthrow, Egypt fell under foreign rule.


Mummified head of a woman
New Kingdom – Late Period, c. 1550–332 B.C.
From Thebes.
Now at the Musée du Louvre. E 3442