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Bonhams sells 4,000 year old Egyptian 'Treasure of Harageh' to the Metropolitan Museum
The tomb group of an unknown Egyptian princess to return to the USA. Photo: Bonhams.


NEW YORK, NY.- The ‘Treasure of Harageh’, a collection of 4,000 year old artifacts discovered in an Egyptian tomb in 1914 has been sold by Bonhams, the international fine art auction house, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for an undisclosed sum on behalf of the St Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Bonhams withdrew the Treasure on the day of the sale to conclude a private treaty deal between the St Louis Society and The Met. The artifacts had been estimated to sell for £80,000 to £120,000 after being consigned to auction by the St Louis Society.

Madeleine Perridge, Director of Antiquities at Bonhams, commented: “We are truly delighted that this wonderful collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts is going to The Met where they will be displayed to best effect and provide academics with access. We are very pleased to have found such a satisfactory resolution ensuring that the tomb group will be kept together for posterity. Making connections at this level is part of what Bonhams offers its clients.”

A spokesperson for The St. Louis Society says: “We are very pleased with the outcome. Bonhams representation was superb. The Metropolitan Museum in New York is the best home for The Treasure. We are looking forward to seeing the objects and jewelry on exhibition.”

The Treasure was discovered by a team working under the legendary William Matthew Flinders Petrie, universally regarded as the father of modern archaeology. The team was led by Reginald Engelbach whose career in Egyptology included a term as Chief Keeper of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The Treasure of Harageh is an important Egyptian tomb group from Harageh, and dates from the period of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, probably the reign of Sesostris II, circa 1897-1878 B.C.

The Treasure consists of:

* Five banded travertine objects including a kohl-pot; a cosmetic vase with lid; a bag-shaped flask; a small 'magical jar' vase with a stopper: and a cosmetic spoon with the handle in the form of an ankh-sign.

* Seven silver cowrie shells with double horizontal piercings probably to be strung into a necklace, six of which have with tiny beads inside to rattle with movement.

* Fourteen silver mounted shell pendants of tear-drop form, the shells of mottled black and white, each mounted in silver frames with loops for suspension to be worn as a necklace.

* Ten silver and hardstone inlaid jewellery elements probably from pectorals, inlaid with various materials including lapis lazuli, carnelian and glass, one a gilded cartouche for the Pharaoh Sesostris II, composed of the hieroglyphs for his prenomen Kha-kheper-re.

* A unique silver jewel in the form of a bee, in three-dimensional form, inlaid in the round with lapis lazuli, carnelian and glass, the anatomical detail preserved with a long body and multiple legs, the wings splaying out from the body.

The St. Louis Society acquired the Treasure around 1914 in return for contributing to funding the excavation by the British School of Archaeology in Egypt from Tomb 124 at Harageh, the Fayum, near Lahun.

In October of 1913 the team began excavations at the site of Harageh, 62 miles southwest of Cairo. This site contained an extensive necropolis. The tomb is suggested to have belonged to an elite woman of elevated status, often identified as Iytenhab, on the basis of a funerary stela which may not have been part of the original entombment.





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