Cosmetic Box of the Royal Butler Kemeni

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

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Kemeni was the butler to Pharaoh Amenemhat IV during his reign in the Middle Kingdom. Kemeni's tomb was excavated in CC 25 and an ornate cosmetic box made from cedar and ivory was one of the many treasures uncovered. Much like modern cosmetic boxes, Kemeni's box was constructed with several small compartments. Archaeologists have determined that the compartments would have held ointment jars. A recessed area for a mirror is just under the lid.The outside of the box is inscribed with hieroglyphs and includes a prayer to the god Sobek. Sobek is usually depicted with the head of a crocodile and his images have been found in tombs of kings. He is associated with fertility, power, and protection. In the Twelfth Dynasty, the cult of Sobek grew significantly with the support of elite patronage.

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