This inlay of a vulture headdress is said to have been discovered among the Treasure of Dendara, and dates from the Ptolemaic Period, c. 100 – 1 B.C., and is made from gold and over 100 semi-precious stones.
Thin plates of over 100 perfectly cut precious stones were cut to make this delicate piece. The semi-precious stones include; turquoise, lapis lazuli, petrified wood and an unidentified white stone, which were placed between the gold partitions, creating the design of the vulture feathers, and were held together by a resin-like adhesive.
From the 5th Dynasty onwards, female rulers, high-ranking priestesses and Great Royal Wives would be depicted wearing the vulture headdress, which before then was only ever really seen upon the head of goddesses. The vulture headdress was associated with the goddess Nekhbet, and was often worn with a uraeus in the form of a cobra to represent the goddess Wedjat. Both goddesses represented both Upper (Nekhbet) and Lower (Wadjet) Egypt, and depicted together represented a Unified Egypt.
The goddess Nekhbet started as a local goddess in Pre-Dynastic Egypt, as the patron of Nekheb (El-Kab, an Upper Egyptian region on the East Bank of the Nile, at the mouth of the Wadi Hillal), later to become the patron of the entirety of Upper Egypt, and one of the two patron deities of the entirety of Unified Egypt, alongside Wadjet.
Nekhbet’s association with motherhood, made her a deity that the queen’s would want to be associated with. The hieroglyph for the vulture, was the same as the Egyptian language’s word for “mother”, “mwt”. The feminine motherly nature of the bird iconography went hand in hand, complimenting the male role of Horus, of which whom the living king would embody