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Ancient Egyptian treasure up for auction believed to be 'prince who failed to be king' 3,000 years ago

Posted on 31/01/2019 in Press Coverage

A mysterious Shabti figure believed to be ‘the Egyptian prince that failed to become king’ after plotting to murder his father 3,000 years ago has been discovered.

The shabti - figures which were placed in Egyptian tombs - is inscribed for Pentaur (Pentaweret) and is due to be sold in London on February 11 as part of the Julian Bird private collection of antiquities from ancient Egypt. It has an estimate of £200-£300.

James Brenchley, head of Antiquities at Hansons Auctioneers, identified the figure. He said: “I was hugely excited when I realised what this could be. The name Pentaweret carries much intrigue in the world of Egyptology, ‘the prince that failed to become king’.

“This mysterious figure could be of Prince Pentaweret – the disgraced prince who attempted to poison his father, Rameses III, and steal the pharaonic throne from rightful heir Rameses IV, son of Queen Iset Ta-Hemdjert in 1186 – 1155 BC.

“Prince Pentaweret was the son of Rameses III’s second wife Queen Tiye who was thought to have plotted the ‘Harem Conspiracy’.


“The plan was set out by Pebekkamen, chief of the chamber of Rameses III. Queen Tiye, Pebekkamen, Pentaweret and members of the pharaoh’s harem plotted to overthrow the king.

“Recent studies, using a CT scan, show Rameses III’s throat may have been cut cut. The conspirators were trialled for his murder and details of the conspiracy are recorded in court records referred to as the ‘Judical papyrus of Turin’.

“Following the attack on his father, the rightful heir, Rameses IV, quickly took control.

“For many years, Pentaweret was thought have committed suicide but recent evidence suggests he may have been hanged. His body was found by chance in Deir-el-Bahri in 1886.”

The shabti figure, Lot 83, is well preserved and formed in red Nile silt clay with a yellow wash over the front portion. The figure is adorned with a trupartite wig and broad collar, with eyes and mouth indicated in black.

It is part of the collection of Julian Bird, a hugely respected Egyptian antiquity collector from the 1970s until 2013. It was acquired from Nomis Antiquities Inc, Canada, in 2008 and previously housed in a collection formed in Switzerland in the 1970s.

The Julian Bird collection will be sold on February 11 at Hansons London Auction Centre, Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS. To find out more or enter items for Hansons’ next antiquities sale, email: [email protected]

To browse The Julian Bird Collection of Ancient Egytiptian Antiquities, CLICK HERE.