Ancient Egyptian teenager found buried with fine jewelry

Archaeologists from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have discovered the mummy of a teenage girl who was buried wearing a collection of fine jewelry. The wooden anthropoid coffin was found in front of the courtyard of the tomb of 18th Dynasty official Djehuty in the Draa Abul Naga hill on Luxor’s West Bank. It dates to the 17th Dynasty.

The 5.7-foot-long coffin was carved from a single sycamore tree trunk, whitewashed and painted in red. It was found next to a small mud brick chapel dating to around 1600 B.C., abandoned there by ancient grave robbers who for some reason never broke into it and who placed it on that spot with some care.

Researchers X-rayed the coffin and found it contained the mummified remains of girl about 15 or 16 years old resting on her side. The mummy was in a poor state of conservation. She was wearing two earrings on the left ear, both spiral in shape with a metal leaf coating believed to be copper. She also wore two finger rings, one of bone and other a blue glass bead mounted on a metal band. A string was tied around the band.

On her chest were four necklaces in a little pile. Two of them were made of faience beads, one in alternating light and dark shades of blue, one multiple-strand necklace tied together at both ends with a ring. One was made of alternating beads of faience and green glass. The fourth was the most elaborate and expensive. It is made of 74 beads of amethyst, carnelian, amber, blue glass and quartz, and five faience amulets. An amber falcon representing the god Horus is at the center, flanked by two scarabs. This is an unusually rich funerary assemblage for a young girl with a modest coffin.

On the other side of the mud brick chapel, the team discovered a small clay coffin about 9 inches long and six inches wide. It was tied with a rope to keep it closed. Inside was a wooden shabti with four linen bandages wrapped around its neck and ankles. One of them has a hieratic script inscription that reads “El Osiris, Djehuty.” The same inscription was written vertically down the body of the shabti.

This Djehuty bears no known relation to the later official of the same name whose large tomb is near the find. The name was relatively common in that era, and the 18th Dynasty Djehuty lived more than a hundred years after the young girl was buried.

In the same area where the girl’s coffin was found but inside a funerary shaft, archaeologists found a pair of leather sandals and a pair of leather balls. They too date to the 17th Dynasty. The sandals were dyed red and embossed with images of two cats, an ibex, a rosette, the hippo goddess Tawaret and the dwarf god Bes, both deities associated with pregnancy and childbirth. The color, decorative motifs and size of the sandals suggest they belonged to a woman.

The leather balls were stitched together in six orange-like segments and filled with barley shells. The two completed balls were tied together with a string. Images of quotidian activities found in the 12th Dynasty (1991 – 1802 B.C.) Beni Hassan tombs show similar balls used by women to play a sport or as accessories in a choreographed dance.

8 thoughts on “Ancient Egyptian teenager found buried with fine jewelry

  1. Djehuty is a name of the god Thoth—unless there’s more to tell than is said here, there’s no reason to associate the Djehuty in the inscription with a human being.

  2. The poor child was buried with all her pretty jewelry and balls to play or dance with by her grieving family. Touching.

  3. Why aren’t they showing her most precious or intimate things? The things showed are the outer less significant to her. She left her self messages behind to remind herself when she was recovered and hopefully by herself, not someone else. To continue her journey, the diary of secret writings that were unrecognizable to anyone but herself.

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