Feature object: Royal Seshed Diadem, Middle Kingdom

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
Feature object: Royal Seshed Diadem, Middle Kingdom
It's easy to appreciate this royal headband for its materials and craftsmanship but how much more could it tell us if we knew its exact provenance? While modern techniques are telling us more about artefacts than ever before, accurate information about the context of artefacts provides invaluable clues as to the ownership, purpose, function and importance of objects. Removing objects from their original context without proper recording diminishes our understanding. Sadly, in the past this practice was widespread.
"The antiques sellers of Luxor have always had the habit of combining the artefacts they had discovered in different tombs.When this diadem arrived in Leiden, it came with a string of beads attached to it that originally did not belong there – an obvious attempt to make the object more attractive and lucrative.
The original discovery consisted of a mummy in a human-shaped coffin. The linen-wrapped mummy was wearing the silver diadem on its head and a heart scarab on its chest. The coffin was inscribed with texts bearing the name of king Antef, but the scarab was intended for Pharaoh Sebekemsaf, who lived in later years. The diadem may have belonged to either of them, or even to someone else, possibly a woman, for head ornaments like these were worn by both sexes.
Seshed means ‘hair-ribbon’. On the back of the diadem we find a bow, with a blue lotus flower on each side, inlaid in greenish blue faience and dark blue glass. At the front, directly opposite, we find a cobra, the uraeus, made of 16-18 carat gold. The diadem was crafted in the tradition of the most beautiful and most perfect silver smith’s art of the Middle Kingdom. Obviously, the maker of this diadem was a follower of those veritable masters of this artistic handicraft." [1]

[1] https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/royal-seshed-diadem/EQFF6XK93EmgIQ


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