Pectoral of Tutankhamun with Ptah and Sekhmet

A necklace with an open work pectoral ornament of Tutankhamun between Ptah and his consort Sekhmet, inlaid in semi-relief after cloisonné fashion.

In the center, with black face, stands the king between the seated god Ptah and goddess Sekhmet. Between is the solar uraeus and the emblem of “Eternal Years”; behind Sekhmet is the king’s banner and Ka (double); below, under a green mat, is a dado of symbols of “eternity”.

Pectoral of King Tutankhamun between Ptah and Sekhmet
Pectoral of King Tutankhamun between Ptah and Sekhmet

Ptah seems to be one of the oldest deities in the Egyptian pantheon and is attested as early as the 1st Dynasty. However, the great god of Memphis was originally only a local deity, his importance grew over time and he came to play extremely important tasks .

The role played by the city of Memphis was certainly fundamental in his rise: it was originally called Ineb-hedj (White Walls) and it was the administrative capital of Egypt at the time of the unification of the country, around 3000 BC. Mythologically, Ptah’s consort was the lioness goddess Sekhmet and together with their son Nefertem they made up the major triad of the Theban region.

The lioness goddess Sekhmet is well known for her ferocity and danger. The goddess also had a good side. She had the power to ward off plagues and could even intercede as a healing goddess, even being called “Sekhmet, the lady of life”. Her priests seemed to have played an important role in the magical aspect of medicine, reciting prayers and spells for the sick along with the physical cure given by doctors.

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 61941