Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Sarcophagus of the Hathor Priestess Henhenet

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 11
early reign of Mentuhotep II
ca. 2051–2030 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Mentuhotep II, Pit 11 (Henhenet), Egypt Exploration Fund excavations, 1906–07
Limestone, sandstone, paint
H. 97 cm (38 3/16 in); w. 105 cm (41.5/16 in); l. 261 cm (102 3/4 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1907
Accession Number:
07.230.1a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 104
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 (see 07.230.1d).

Front (following the current display in the galleries):

Htp-Di-nswt jnp.w tp.j-Dw=f jm.j-wt nb tA Dsr qrs(.t) nfr.t m jz=s n Xr.t-nTr pr.t xrw xr jnp.w Xnt.j-zX-nTr n Xkr.t-nswt wa.tjt Hm(.t)-nTr-Hw.t-Hr.w hnhn.t mAa.t-xrw

Offering which the king gives (and) Anubis who is upon his hill, Imiut, Lord of the sacred land - good burial in her tomb of the necropolis (and) invocation offerings before Anubis who presides over the divine booth for the venerated Sole Ornament of the King, priestess of Hathor Henhenet, true of voice.


Htp-Di-nswt Wsjr nb Dd.w Xnt.j-jmn.tjw nb AbD.w m s.wt=f nb(.t) pr.t xrw xA t’ Hnq.t xA jH.w Apd.w xA Ss mnx.t xA (j)x.t nb.t nfr(.t) wab(.t) n xr jnpw tp.j-Dw=f xr nTr aA nb p.t hnhn.t mAa.t xrwp

Offering which the king gives (and) Osiris Lord of Busiris, Foremost-of-the-westerners, Lord of Abydos in all his places – invocation offerings: 1000 (of) bread and beer, 1000 (of) oxen and fowl, 1000 (of) alabaster and garments, 1000 (of) every good and pure thing for the venerated before Anubis who is upon his hill (and) before the great god, Lord of Heaven, Henhenet, true of voice.

Left side:

Pr.t xrw xr nb.t-Hw.t (j)x.t nb.t nfr(.t) wab(.t) xr nTr aA nb-p.t hnhn.t mAa.t xrw

Invocation offerings before Nephthys, every good and pure thing before the great got, Lord of Heaven, (for) the venerated Henhenet true of voice

Right side:

Pr.t xrw xr As.t xA (j)x.t nb(.t) nfr(.t) wab(.t) n hnhn.t mAa xr.w (written over pr.t-xr.w)

Invocation offerings before Isis, 1000 (of) every good and pure thing for the venerated Henhenet true of voice.


Htp-Di-nswt jnp.w nb spA Xnt.j-zX-nTr m s.wt[=f] nb. t nfr. T [wab.t] pr.t xrw xA m t’ jH.w [zS] mnx…xA (j)x.t [nb.t] nfr.t [wab.t] n xr nTr aA nb p.t Xkr.t-nswt hnhn.t mAa.t xrw

Offering which the king gives (and) Anubis, Lord of Sepa who presides over the divine booth, in all his good and [pure] places, invocation offerings: 1000 of bread, oxen, [alabaster], and garments…1000 of [every pure] and good thing (for) the venerated before the great god, Lord of Heaven, Ornament of the King, Henhenet, true of voice.

Niv Allon 2017
Excavated by Edouard Naville on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1906-1907. Acquired by the EEF in the division of finds. Acquired by the Museum from the EEF through subscription, 1907.

Lythgoe, Albert M. 1907. "Recent Egyptian Acquisitions." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 12 (December), p. 196.

Naville, Édouard F., H. R. Hall, and Edward R. Ayrton 1907. The XIth Dynasty Temple at Deir el-Bahari, vol. 1. Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Society, 28. London: Egypt Exploration Society, pp. 31ff, 50, 53, 56, pl. XXI.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 160, 161, 260, fig. 97D, 98A,B.

Related Objects

Statue of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II in the Jubilee Garment

Date: ca. 2051–2000 B.C. Medium: Sandstone, paint Accession: 26.3.29 On view in:Gallery 104

Stela of the Gatekeeper Maati

Date: ca. 2051–2030 B.C. Medium: Limestone Accession: 14.2.7 On view in:Gallery 104

Relief of an Acacia Tree Shading Water Jars with Drinking Cups

Date: ca. 2051–2030 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 26.3.353c On view in:Gallery 104

Sarcophagus of Djedhor

Date: 200–150 B.C. Medium: Limestone Accession: 11.154.7a, b On view in:Gallery 133

Sarcophagus of Harkhebit

Date: 595–526 BC Medium: Greywacke Accession: 07.229.1a, b On view in:Gallery 123