Bow harp

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 109

The harp, called benet in ancient Egyptian, was one of the most popular musical instruments throughout pharaonic history. This bow harp, among the oldest to have survived, is characterized by a long, curving neck and a shovel-shaped sound box. Originally covered by parchment or animal skin, the sound box would have resonated when the instrument’s five strings were plucked. Harpers played either alone or in ensembles with singers and other musicians.

Bow harp, Wood, paint

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.