Pectoral of Princess Mereret

This gold old pectoral complete with necklace and inlaid with carnelian, lapis lazuli and turquoise, once belonged to Princess Mereret, daughter of King Senusret III and sister of his successor Amenemhat III.

“The king himself appears on either side in a stance familiar to anyone who has visited an ancient Egyptian temple, and which appears from the beginning of the history of Egypt. One of the king’s hands, brandishing
a mace, is raised as he prepares to smite the enemies of Egypt—in this case ‘Asiatics’ from the northeastern borders of Egypt. In his other hand, he holds the hair of an unfortunate tribesman who, pathetically, defends himself with a throwing stick and a dagger. The eastern origin of the tribes is described in hieroglyphs beside the submissive figures and between the legs of the king.

Pectoral of King Amenemhat III
Pectoral of King Amenemhat III

In the middle of his heroic action in defending Egypt, a living ankh sign is fanning the king. Meanwhile, the wings of the vulture goddess Nekhbet stretch protectively across the whole scene at the top, and she is identified above her wings as ‘Lady of Heaven’ and below as ‘Mistress of the Two Lands.’ The goddess clutches a combined ankh and djed symbol above the head of the king.

Shortly after the death of Amenemhat III, the 12th Dynasty ended and Egypt descended into a long period of disarray characterized by a very long list of kings who mostly ruled for only a few years, and who seem to have seldom had extended family connections. By around 1650 BC, at the end of the succeeding 13th Dynasty (1795–1650 BC), Egypt had broken down into smaller political units. This disunity allowed a group of foreign princes of Palestinian origin (known as the Hyksos) to carve out a large part of northern Egypt for themselves centered on the city of Avaris within the Nile Delta. Thus began the period known to historians as the Second Intermediate Period (1650–1550 BC).” Fletcher Jones, Ancient Egyptian Jewelry.

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, ca. 1878-1839 BC. Jacques de Morgan Excavations of 1894. From the Mortuary Complex of Senusret III, Dahshur. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 30876, CG 52003

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