Menat necklace from Malqata

New Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 119

A menat necklace consists of a heavy, keyhole-shaped counterpoise (menat) and many strands of beads. Although the necklace is sometimes shown being worn (fig. 2 above), it was more often carried by females participating in religious ceremonies. It functioned as a percussion instrument that was shaken to create a soothing noise that was thought to appease a god or goddess. In the New Kingdom the menat necklace and sistrum (68.44) were attributes of women who held the title "Singer of Amun-Re" such as Renenutet, who is depicted holding her menat on her lap in a statue.

In the early 20th century, the Museum conducted excavations at Malqata, a site at the southern end of the Theban necropolis where Amenhotep III had built a festival city for the celebration of his three jubilees (or heb seds). This miraculously preserved menat necklace and two single-strand necklaces of beads and amulets were found in the corner of a room in a private house near the King's Palace. According to the excavators, the three necklaces had been placed in a linen bag, traces of which were still visible.

Link to a blog about the Museum's excavations at Malqata
The Met's Joint Mission to Malqata

Menat necklace from Malqata, Faience, bronze or copper alloy, glass, agate, carnelian, lapis lazuli, turquoise

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