Queen Tetisheri – A Forgery?

As described in “The Hippopotamus Pool”, during the 1899-1900 season, the Peabody-Emersons excavated at Dra’ Abu el-Naga in West Thebes. There they supposedly found the tomb of the 17th Dynasty Queen Tetisheri, whose burial has in fact never been found.

Her mummy is believed to be among those in the Royal Cache found nearby in Deir el-Bahri (DB 320), which contained at least 46 mummies of kings, queens, and royal officials from Dynasties 17 to 22, believed to have been removed from their original tombs and reburied together secretly to protect them from grave robbers.

Queen Tetisheri

A fake? Queen Tetisheri, Photo: British Museum

A number of items bearing the name of Tetisheri have been found, including this statue, which after years on display in the British Museum was determined by W.V. Davies to be a forgery. However, that determination has been questioned by more recent commentators, who suggest that while the statue itself may be genuine, the inscription bearing the name Tetisheri is not.

The statue represents a common problem facing Egyptology, fakes and forgeries and plundered objects from tombs without records of their origins.

Object page in the British Museum

Object name: Statute of Teitsheri, determined to be a forgery

Limestone statue of Tetisheri enthroned; Hieroglyphic text on the block-throne; painted detail on the vulture-headdress

PM I-II: Queen Tetisheri ~,wife of King Senakhtenrec-Taca, seated, with dedication-text of Sensonb ~ ~ r J on back, in Brit. Mus. 22558.

Material: Limestone

Measurements: 36 cm tall, 13.5 cm wide, 24.5 cm deep

Provenance: PM I-II p 662: “From Dra’ Abu el-Naga’, but exact provenance unknown.” Sold by Mohammed Mohassib to E A Wallis Budge of the British Museum in 1890.

Date: 1890

Additional description:

Inscription Type
: inscription
Inscription Script
: hieroglyphic
Inscription Position
: throne

Determined by W.V. Davies to be a fake

Current location with inventory numbers: British Museum, BM number EA22558, Registration number 1890,0412.5

Acquisition history: From John Taylor of the British Museum: It was purchased from the Luxor antiquities dealer Mohammed Mohassib in 1890. It had been in Mohassib’s possession at least as early as January 1889, as the American traveller Charles Wilbour recorded in his diary that Mohassib had shown him the statue at that time. Wilbour adds that it had allegedly been ‘found near Drah Aboo’l Neggah’ (i.e. the region of Dra Abu el-Naga on the Theban west bank). E A Wallis Budge negotiated the purchase of the statue through the Reverend Chauncey Murch and the acquisition was approved by the Trustees of the British Museum in April 1890.


From John Taylor of the British Museum: The case for and against the authenticity of the statue of Tetisheri is given in the following publication: W V Davies, The Statuette of Queen Tetisheri. A reconsideration, British Museum Occasional Paper 36 (London 1984).

See also:

PM I Part 2: p.612,which reads:

MuRRAY in Ancient Egypt {1934), p. 6 and frontispiece, pp. 65-6 with pl. and figs. 1, 2; Guide, Eg. Call. (1909), fig. on p. 113, (1930), fig. 180, p. 334; Guide, 4th to 6th, fig. on p. 124 [4o]; Summary Guide to the Egyptian Antiquities, pl. 2, p. 6; BuDGE, A History of Egypt, iii, fig. on p. 64; id. Eg. Sculptures, pl. xvii; id. The Mummy, pl. viii [ 1]; id. By Nile and Tigris, ii, pl. facing p. 291; KING and HALL, Egypt and Western Asia, p. 339 and pl.; MASPERO, Egypte, fig. 305; MuRRAY, Splendour, pl. 1 [2], p. 146; WEIGALL, Anc. Eg . … Art, 123 ; CAP ART, L’ Art eg. ii, pl. 295; NEWBERRY in Ross, The Art of Egypt, fig. on p. 171 [1]; BRUNNER, Jlgyptische Kunst, Abb. 37; FECH-HEIMER, Kleinplastik der Agypter, pl. 51; LUGN, Konst, fig. 51; PIJOAN, Summa Artis, iii (1945), figs. 31o-11; ALDRED, N.K. Art, pl. 3; WoLF, Die Kunst Aegyptens, Abb. 367; SMITH, Art … Anc. Eg. pl. 85 [B]. Text, WILBOUR MSS. 2 K. 32. See WINLOCK inJ.E.A. x (1924), p. 247 with note 3; WILBOUR, Travels in Egypt, p. 507 (giving provenance).

Henry Moore: Early Carvings 1920-1940, Leeds 1982, p.66 [X].
BM OP 28, p.12

Exhibition history
: Exhibited: 2011 10 Feb – 10 June Coventry, Herbert Museum, Secret Egypt

Condition: Good