Pectoral of Princess Mereret

This necklace with a pectoral had once adorned the figure of Princess Mereret, the daughter of King Senusret III and sister of his successor Amenemhat III. It bears a cartouche containing the coronation name of Amenemhat III as decoration. Represented as two falcon-headed sphinxes, the king smites his enemies. Above, the vulture-goddess, Nekhbet, is shown spreading out her wings to protect the figure of the king and his name. It is made out of gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, amethyst and inlaid with carnelian.

Not much else is known about Mereret. Her name, with different spellings, appears on several scarab seals found in the jewellery box. Here, she always bears the title King’s Daughter. From the position of her burial it might be concluded that she was the daughter of King Senusret III. Among her personal adornments were also pieces with the name of King Amenemhat III, indicating that she might have died under that king (who was most likely her brother).

Pectoral of Princess Mereret
Pectoral of Princess Mereret

“The frame of the pectoral naming Senwosret III imitates a shrine with a cavetto cornice supported by slender pillars with lotus capitals. The composition divides into two balanced parts around a central axis. Across the top a vulture hovers with outspread wings. Its vertical body lies on the scene’s dividing axis, while the horizontal span of the wings spreads over the two halves, binding them together.

Immediately below the vulture’s body is a cartouche with the throne name of Senwosret III. On either side two sphinxes face towards the cartouche, which they support with their far forepaws. Underneath on each side a kneeling enemy looks back toward the sphinx with a hand raised in supplication. The sphinx’s other paw tramples on the leg of its victim. A second enemy writhes on his back under the hind leg of each sphinx.

The balanced nature of the composition into which the chaotic poses of the foreigners are subsumed signifies the ordered world triumphant over the forces of chaos.”

The Art of Ancient Egypt, by Gay Robins, British Museum Press, London, England, 2008

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, ca. 1991-1786 BC. Size: Height: 6.1 cm; Width: 8.6 cm. Jacques de Morgan’s Excavations of 1894. From the Funerary Complex of Senusret III, Tomb of Mereret, Dahshur. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 30875 CG 52002