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Before the reign of King Teti (c. 2350–2338 b.c.e.)–The reign of King Pepi I (c. 2338–2298 b.c.e.)

Priestess of Hathor

King's Daughter.

Watetkhethor Sheshat was born sometime before the reign of her father, King Teti. She descended from the family that ruled Egypt during the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties. She married the prime minister, Mereruka, who served her father. They had a son and a daughter. She served as a priestess of the goddess Hathor, which perhaps explains her interest in dance, since Hathor was the goddess most associated with sacred dance in Egypt. Watetkhethor's tomb, which was attached to her husband's tomb, contained six rooms. This large mastaba-tomb had considerably more wall space than ordinary tombs. Watetkhethor commissioned an artist to decorate one wall with a depiction of the tjeref dance. The artist divided the wall into six registers that contain 31 different female figures performing the dance, step by step. Members of the kheneret, the organization of professional dancers, performed the tjeref dance at the conclusion of a funeral. The dance contained allusions to each of the major components of a funeral. Watetkhethor's scene of the tjeref dance is the most complete account of this important Egyptian dance.


P. Duell, The Mastaba of Mereruka. 2 vols. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1938).

Jonathan Van Lepp, "The Dance Scene of Watetkhethor: An Art Historical Approach to the Role of Dance in the Old Kingdom Funerary Ritual." Unpublished master's thesis (Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, 1987).