Plaque of Amenhotep III Flanked by Two Uraei
On this piece the uraeus cobra functions as the protector of the royal name, the name of king Amenhotep III “The Lord of Maat is Re” is in the center of the plaque. The top and center part of the inscription is written twice and the direction of the hieroglyphs was reversed.
Only the very bottom part is shown once. To each side is an uraeus with a sun disk, protecting the royal name in the same way the uraeus protects the king as a head ornament. The underside of the plaque is undecorated and flat and does not bear any means of suspension. Originally the piece might have been fitted into a piece of jewelry, maybe it even belonged to the king himself.
The myth tells that the eye of Re one day decided to run away; when Tefnut and Shu brought it back to its owner, they transformed it into an uraeus and placed it on his forehead. A symbol of the god’s power and his protection against enemies, it was also placed on the king’s crown to give him the same protection and became a symbol of divine and royal power. The snake is also an animal that changes its skin and this behavior made it a symbol of rebirth.
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1391-1353 BC. Made of Carnelian. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 30.8.334