This is the golden mummy mask of the 21st Dynasty King Amenemopet.
The mummy mask of King Amenemopet reveals an Egypt that was fast running out of gold.
Although it looks solid enough, the mask is actually mostly cartonnage, made up of layers of linen stuck together with plaster—similar to papier-mâché. The mask was then very thinly gilded and adorned with a very small uraeus on its brow.
It seems that Amenemopet had to be frugal with his gold.
This era was what Egyptologists call the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1069–747 B.C.) The last of the Ramesside kings—Ramesses XI—was dead, and Egypt was now split between two power bases; Tanis and Thebes.
The pharaohs of the 21st Dynasty, who considered themselves the true successors of Ramesses XI, ruled from Tanis in the eastern Nile Delta, but they had a power-sharing arrangement with the High Priests of Amun at Thebes, who created a ruling Dynasty of their own and managed Upper Egypt.
Ramesses XI had no doubt hoped to emulate the legendary feats of his great forebear, Ramesses II, but he was born too late; Egypt's fortunes had turned. Nubia had asserted itself and the river of gold from Egypt's southern former province had dried up.
Amenemopet was buried with far less opulence than his father, Psusennes I. His gilded cartonnage mask, for example, only covered the front of the head. However, it still gave him a powerful, imperishable connection with the sun. The Egyptians believed that the mask's gleaming skin mirrored the golden flesh of the sun god, Ra, and helped the deceased's chances of sharing in the sun's daily eternal cycle of rebirth at dawn.
The king's mummy was found in the tomb of his father, Psusennes I, at Tanis in 1939, adorned with the gold mask above (JE 86063).
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