Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Treasure of Sit Hathor Yunet

Fig. 1 - the girdle of Princess Sit Hathoe Yunet
     The Princess Sit Hathor Yunet was likely the daughter of the Middle Kingdom Pharaoh Senusert II. She seems to have survived the death of her father by quite a few years and likely passed away during the reign of her father's grandson, Amenemhat III.

     She was laid to rest in a tomb located in the pyramid complex of her father. Included in her burial were several chests of jewelry that survived the looting of her tomb.The niche that the jewelry was in was right beside the entrance of the tomb and when the robbers entered, the filling of the burial shaft covered the niche and hid the chests from view.

     Sir Flinders Petrie cleared the Princesses' tomb in 1914. The Cairo Museum took only a small part of the treasure as they had pieces from the tomb of a Princess found at Dashur that were virtually identical to those found in Sit Hathor Yunet's burial. Petrie decided not to split the find among several musesums and the artifacts  made their way to the Metropolitan Museum, where Herbert Winlock prepared a classic publication of the objects (Winlock, Herbert. The Treasure of El Lahun, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1934).

     I originally saw these objects back in the 1970s on a trip to New York with my parents. I fell in love with them then and always make sure to stop by and see them whenever I am in the Met. These objects are not only beautiful works of art, they are also objects that the Princess used during her life and that gives them a personal feeling that many other examples of Egyptian art do not have.

     Over the next few posts I will show some of the objects that Petrie found and describe them in some detail. Just to start, I have included a photo of the Princesses' girdle. The Princess was quite slim and this object would have been worn around her waist. The eight gold cowrie shells were made up of two pieces of gold soldered together and the cowries are separated by different colored stone beads. One of the cowries is a clasp that made getting the girdle on a bit easier. Similar girdles have been found in the burials of both commoners and in the burial of  a Princess found at Dashur by De Morgan.

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