Mummy mask of Satdjehuty
From Thebes, Egypt
Early 18th Dynasty, about 1500 BC
The burial of Satdjehuty was discovered around 1820. It probably originally consisted of at least a coffin, the mummy, a heart scarab, this mummy mask and a quantity of linen. It is rare to find burial equipment from the early Eighteenth Dynasty (about 1550-1295 BC), and a piece in such superb condition is extremely rare. Only the mask and linen are in the British Museum.
We learn from texts written on the mass of linen that it was given to Satdjehuty 'in the favour of the god's wife, king's wife, and king's mother Ahmose-Nefertari'. Ahmose-Nefertari was the wife of Ahmose I (1550-1525 BC), the first king of the Dynasty, and the mother of Amenhotep I (1525-1504 BC), with whom she subsequently became associated as local deities. That Satdjehuty should have received such an honour shows she was a lady of the highest rank in courtly circles.
The winged head-dress on this mask is a feature found on funerary headpieces and coffins in the Second Intermediate Period (about 1750-1650 BC), and perhaps denotes protection of the deceased by a deity. The gilding shows the dead Satdjehuty as one of the gods, whose skin was gold.
E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)
J.H. Taylor, 'Tracking down the past', British Museum Magazine: the-8, 21 (Spring 1995), pp. 8-11
J. Taylor, 'An Egyptian mummy-mask in the British Museum', Apollo-9 (July 1996), pp. 33-38
S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)