Resurrecting Royalty: Queen Nodjmet’s Mummy Unveiled from Deir el-Bahari Royal Cachette

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
September 22, 2023

The mummy of Queen Nodjmet was found in the Deir el-Bahari Royal Cachette (DB320). The mummy had been given artificial eyes, made of white and black stones. The eyebrows are real hair and she wears a wig. Her body and parts of her face were colored to give her a more lively appearance.

Mummy of Queen Nodjmet - Egypt Museum

With her mummy two Books of the Dead were found. One of them, Papyrus (EA10490), now in the British museum, belonged to “the King’s Mother Nodjmet, the daughter of the King’s Mother Hrere”.

The other Book of the Dead from her tomb can also be found in the British Museum’s collection (EA10541) and is one of the most beautifully illustrated papyri from ancient Egypt.

Nodjmet was an ancient Egyptian noble lady of the late 20th Dynasty or early 21st Dynasty of Egypt, the wife of Herihor, High Priest of Amun at Thebes. She may have been a daughter of Ramesses XI. Early in her life, she held titles such as Lady of the House and Chief of the Harem of Amun.

Nodjmet had several children: Heqanefer, Heqamaat, Ankhefenmut, Faienmut, and the future High Priest of Amun/King Pinedjem I. Rarely displayed, the version of this funeral text that accompanied Queen Nodjmet into the afterlife – richly illustrated on a piece of papyrus more than four meters long and 3,000 years old – will appear in the British Museum exhibition.

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The body of the queen was filled with sawdust and her hands were set by her sides. Between the layers of her wrappings, a heart scarab and four small figurines of the Four Sons of Horus were found. The embalming wound, as well as her eyes, nose, mouth and ears were covered by wax.

The 21st Dynasty is known to Egyptology as the apex of mummification technique for a reason. For the first time, elites developed an interest in the preserved body’s discrete self-sufficiency. At the close of the Bronze Age, we see a number of changes in the embalmer’s art. First, it became the norm to return internal organs to the body after preservation rather than interring them in separate canopic jars and chests.

21st Dynasty mummies were not split into different containers. Instead, when the embalmed organs were returned to the mummy, the corpse was intact and whole—that is, self-contained. There were a number of other innovations: The natural and full appearance of the body was now restored. The mummy of Nodjmet has packing under her cheeks to restore the fullness of the face, as well as external padding on the body to restore the lifelike quality of torso and limbs