Arched harps of this type were already in use during the Old Kingdom and remained the foremost string instruments until the end of the Middle Kingdom. From the New Kingdom onward, Egyptian arched harps co-existed with a great variety of harps in different shapes and sizes. Unlike modern European versions, ancient Egyptian harps have no forepillar to strengthen and support the neck. Skin, now missing, covered the open top of the soundbox. Older forms of arched harps like this had four or five strings; during the later New Kingdom musicians experimented with newer forms that accommodated many strings. Harp players accompanied a singer; harps, flute players and singersformed the most common type of musical ensemble that performed during festivals and banquets, funerals and temple rituals.
Excavated by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter at Dira Abu el-Naga between 1907-1914. Acquired by Carnarvon in the division of finds. Donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1914.