Friday, January 27, 2017

Royal Egyptian Box in Scotland

     "A result like that which it exhibited when I gained an entrance, if not altogether unexpected, could not be otherwise than vexatious." (1)

This luxurious wooden and ivory perfume box belongs to Scotland's National Museums and was found in a box containing unidentified objects collected by the late archaeologists Alexander Henry Rhind in the National Museum of Antiquities in the late 19th century. It has been speculated that the tomb which it was excavated contained the mummies of the daughters of King Thutmosis IV found by Mr. Rhind while excavating at Thebes in about 1857.

Where exactly the smashed box bearing the name of the father of Thutmosis IV, King Amenhotep II, was found is not clear, however, the late great Egyptologists Cyril Aldred suggested it was among the finds from the tomb that contained the destroyed burial of the princesses. The tomb contained mummies, fragments of tattered cloth, and a number of crude wooden mummy tags. These tags were at one time attached to the destroyed mummies to keep their names with the bodies during processing and burial in ancient times.

     "The floors were strewn with bones, torn bandages, fragments-but these not numerous-of mummy-boxes, and (in the lower chamber) with mummies themselves, their wrappings ripped up along the throat and breast. A careful search, which I caused to be made among the debris, only produced fourteen small tablets made of thin wood, about two inches and a half long by two broad, and rounded at the top, each pierced with a hole for the purpose of attaching it to the body."(2)

In his 1862 publication, Thebes; its Tombs and Their Tenants, Mr. Rhind is assisted by the eminent Samuel Birch in the translation of the tags some of which I present here.

     "No. 1. The Princess Neferu amen. No.2. The Princess Han en annu. No.3. The Princess Ptah meri, or Meri en ptah. No. 4. The Princess Uai. No.5. The Princess Sat [en] Hara. No.6. The Princess Pet pui. No.7. The Princess Pet pui surname Ta ...en aui. No.8. The Princess Pet aha, of the sun, placer of the world [Thutmosis III.]. No.9. In the year 27 the 11th day of the month Pharmuthi, the Princess Neb tu aa, daughter of the Princess Sat [en] atum. No.10. The Princess Ta enti of the sun, the placer of creation, of the house of the royal family who are after her (or behind her)"(3)

It is unlikely that the exact find spot will ever be identified even though Mr. Rhind was decades ahead of fellow archaeologists in his recording of his excavations. The box is of royal craftsmanship from the late 15th century or early 14th century BC.

Photo; National Museums Scotland 

1. Alexander Henry Rhind: Thebes; its Tombs and Their Tenants, pg 87
2. pg 84
3. pg 85

News from Art Daily on recent findings of other pieces of the Amenhotep II box.

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