Deified Women


This small silver votive sculpture represents Kherdeankh, mother of the doctor, architect and priest Imhotep, who crafted the tiered Pyramid of Djoser. Following the deification of her son, she also came to be considered the descendant of a god and, although she lived at the beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C., this figurine was created in the Ptolemaic period, more than two thousand years after her death. Her cult was quite popular, given that she mediated between men and the gods, and it persisted right up through the Roman period.

Kherdeankh wears a serpent ureus on her forehead, an attribute of the Pharaoh and of the gods, which indicates the degree of respect she managed to attain. In fact, she was not only considered to be the descendant of a god, but was sometimes even identified with the goddess Hathor. In ancient Egypt, even though women enjoyed similar legal conditions to men, they were subordinate to them and not all women enjoyed the recognition and elevated social status of Kherdeankh. Only a few women, such as the queens Hatshepsut, Nefertiti or Cleopatra were relevant enough and held in high enough regard for their names to be handed down to posterity.