Vulture crown
The vulture crown

The Vulture crown was an ancient Egyptian crown worn by Great Royal Wives and female pharaohs. It was depicted as a headdress in the shape of a vulture draped over the head, with its wings hanging down on the sides.[1] It was a symbol of protection associated with the vulture goddess Nekhbet, who often wore this crown when depicted in a human form.[2] These crowns were frequently worn by the Great Royal Wife, high ranking priestesses, and female pharaohs. These crowns were also sometimes equipped with the Uraeus to symbolize Wadjet,[3] representing both Upper (Nekhbet) and Lower Egypt (Wadjet).


The vulture crown was initially only seen in depictions of goddesses.[4] From the Fifth Dynasty onwards, however, queens began to wear the headdress regularly as part of their iconography.[5] The association of Nekhbet with the queen stemmed from the vulture's symbolism of motherhood; the hieroglyph for the vulture, mwt, was used to write the word for "mother".[6] Because Nekhbet was a protector goddess, the queen's affiliation with her complemented the king's role as the embodiment of the falcon god Horus.[7]

Khentkaus II was one of the first queens to wear the vulture headdress.[8] In the New Kingdom, the vulture's head on the crown was more frequently replaced by the uraeus.[9]



  1. ^ Graves-Brown, Carolyn, Dancing for Hathor: Women in Ancient Egypt, Contiuum 2010, p. 131
  2. ^ Robins, Gay, The Art of Ancient Egypt, Harvard University Press 1997, p. 67
  3. ^ Capel, Anne K.; Markoe, Glenn, Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt, Hudson Hills Press with Cincinnati Art Museum 1996, p. 139
  4. ^ Vassilika, Eleni, Ptolemaic Philae, Uitgeverij Peeters 1989, p. 93
  5. ^ Redford, Donald B., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt: P-Z, Oxford Univ Pr (Sd) 2001, p. 106
  6. ^ Lesko, Barbara S., The Great Goddesses of Egypt, OUP 1999, p. 66
  7. ^ Benard, Elisabeth; Moon, Beverly, Goddesses Who Rule, Oxford University Press 2000, p. 216
  8. ^ Budin, Stephanie Lynn, Images of Woman and Child from the Bronze Age: Reconsidering Fertility, Maternity, And Gender In The Ancient World, Cambridge University Press 2014, p. 47
  9. ^ Fischer, Henry George, Egyptian Studies III Varia Nova, Metropolitan Museum of Art 1996, p. 116