Tomb robbers foiled Senusret II's attempts to arrive in the afterlife unscathed.
The Great Pyramids of Giza already lay empty.
They had been plundered during Egypt’s First Intermediate Period, just 300 years after they were sealed for eternity.
Another 300 years later, and 64 kilometres to the south-west, a grand mud-brick pyramid was being raised above the desert.
This was the tomb of the Middle Kingdom pharaoh, Senusret II. He chose to build his pyramid at Lahun on the eastern edge of the fertile Faiyum region.
Having seen the desecration of the tombs of his great predecessors, King Senusret II knew he had to outsmart the thieves. Instead of placing the entrance on the north side of the monument, like most of the pyramids that had come before, the opening to Senusret’s was through a shaft hidden in the pavement on the south side.
In 1889 the young British archaeologist Flinders Petrie spent months trying to find the entrance. When he eventually made his way in he discovered that the ancient grave robbers had also succeeded in finding and plundering the king’s burial place. Of the once rich tomb furnishings, only a red-granite sarcophagus, and an alabaster offering table remained.
But then in 1920 he went back to make a thorough clearance of the debris in the rooms and passages. Within just half an hour of starting, this wonderful treasure was uncovered – a royal uraeus.
This was the rearing cobra worn by royalty at the forehead and is likely from the brow of a crown or headdress of Senusret II. It is a tantalising glimpse at what must have been a sumptuous burial.
Senusret II’s uraeus is today in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (JE 46694).