Mummy of Queen Nodjmet

Nodjmet was an ancient Egyptian noble lady of the late 20th or early 21st dynasties of Egypt, the wife of Herihor, High Priest of Amun at Thebes. She may have been a daughter of Ramesses XI. Early in her life, she held titles such as Lady of the House and Chief of the Harem of Amun. Nodjmet had several children: Heqanefer, Heqamaat, Ankhefenmut, Faienmut, and the future High Priest of Amun/King Pinedjem I.

Queen Nodjmet’s mummy was found in the Deir el-Bahari Royal Cachette (DB320). The mummy had been given artificial eyes, made of white and black stones. The eyebrows are real hair and she wears a wig. Her body and parts of her face were colored to give her a more lively appearance.

King Herihor and Queen Nodjmet adore Osiris, detail from the Book of the Dead of Nodjmet. British Museum. EA10541
King Herihor and Queen Nodjmet adore Osiris, detail from the Book of the Dead of Nodjmet. British Museum. EA10541

With her mummy two Books of the Dead were found. One of them, Papyrus EA10490, now in the British museum, belonged to “the King’s Mother Nodjmet, the daughter of the King’s Mother Hrere”. The other Book of the Dead from her tomb can also be found in the British Museum’s collection (EA10541) and is one of the most beautifully illustrated papyri from ancient Egypt.

The body of the queen was filled with sawdust and her hands were set by her sides. Between the layers of her wrappings, a heart scarab and four small figurines of the Four Sons of Horus were found. The embalming wound, as well as her eyes, nose, mouth and ears were covered by wax.

Nodjmet was one of the first mummies discovered at the Deir el-Bahari Cachette (TT320) in the 19th century. The body is that of an old woman. She had been embalmed with a new mummification technique which involved the use of fake eyes and the packing of the limbs. The fake eyes were constructed out of black and white stones, in order to give the mummy a more life-like appearance. Her limbs and face were also colored to show appearance of liveliness.

Mummy of Queen Nodjmet. Photo: Sandro Vannini
Mummy of Queen Nodjmet. Photo: Sandro Vannini

Although the queen was an old woman, a wig and false eyebrows (made out of human hair) were placed to achieve a look of youthfulness. Nodjmet’s body was disturbed in modern times. She has gashes on her forehead, nose, and cheeks from when thieves searched her body for valuables. The impression of jewelry on her right arm indicates that some valuables were stolen.

Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, ca. 1069-945 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 26215

What are your Thoughts?