Sarcophagus of the Priestess of Hathor, Henhenet
11th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom
Henhenet was one of six royal females who were buried in shaft tombs beneath the platform of King Mentuhotep II’s temple at Deir el Bahri. Her massive sarcophagus is made of several limestone slabs set on a sandstone base. The lid, which belonged originally to one of the other royal ladies, Kawit, consists of three parts. Each of these is pierced by two holes through which suspension ropes were slotted for lowering the piece into place. The inscriptions around the sarcophagus box were first painted green, then outlined in black on two sides; the third side was started but left unfinished.
When found, there was still a wooden coffin inside the sarcophagus; within this was Henhenet’s robbed mummy. According to Edouard Naville, the excavator, she was “lying on the cloth wrappings. Her hands and feet are small and delicately formed, her hair short and straight.” The mummy was sent to Cairo in 1923. It was studied there by Dr. Douglas Derry, who concluded that Henhenet had been about 21 years old when she died in childbirth.
Above each of the shafts in which the royal females were buried were small shrines built to house statues of the deceased.
(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)