Lotus chalice

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Lotus chalice
Lotoskelch (JE67465) Replikat.JPG
Lotus chalice replica
Size18.3 cm high, 28.3 cm wide
CreatedReign of Tutankhamun (c. 1332–1323 BC), 18th dynasty, New Kingdom
DiscoveredTomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings
Present locationEgyptian Museum, Cairo
IdentificationJE 67465, Find number 14

The Lotus chalice or Alabaster chalice, called the Wishing Cup by Howard Carter, derives from the tomb of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun (18th dynasty, New Kingdom). The object received the find number 014 and is now on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, with the inventory number JE 67465.


The tomb of the young king in the East Valley of the Kings (KV62) was uncovered almost untouched in the Valley of the Kings in West Thebes by Howard Carter on 4 November 1922. The lotus chalice was one of the first objects which Carter and his excavators found on entering the tomb. The vessel was almost directly behind the entrance of the corridor to the antechamber, where they broke in, on the ground. This was not its original position.[1]

Material and significance[edit]

Heh kneeling on the Neb symbol with the symbols of infinity: Shen ring, tadpoles and palm rib

The lotus chalice is made from a single piece of alabaster. The chalice has the shape of a lotus in full bloom. The handles on both sides are identical, shaped like lotus flowers growing upward, with the god Heh seated on a basket (the neb symbol) on the tips of the leaves. In each hand Heh holds a palm rib with notches for counting the years and a tadpole sitting on a shen ring below each one. This is a typical depiction of the god of the "million years", the god of infinity and eternity: the palm rib is the Hieroglyph for year, while both the shen ring and the tadpole were symbols of eternity. A kneeling image of the god was the hieroglyph for the number "one million". The same motif is found on other items from the tomb. For example, wooden stool (JE 62029, find number 87). At the upper end of each palm rib there is an ankh symbol, the sign of life. The chalice therefore symbolises the infinite and eternal life of King Tutankhamun.

The lotus is significant in Egyptian mythology for the birth of the sun god, who emerged from the lotus, after it had risen out of the flood of the primeval waters of Nun. The name of the king in the centre of the white open flower therefore symbolised his rebirth.


Floorplan of KV62

The inscriptions are engraved and filled with dark paste. Howard Carter copied the inscriptions and asked Alan Gardiner to provide a translation, since he required this for publication.[2] The main lotus, which forms the actual chalice, had the king's throne name (Neb-kheperw-Re - Lord in Forms, Re) and personal name (Twt-ankh-amun - Living image of Amun), "may he live forever." The first column names him as "beloved of Amun-Re, Lord of the throne of the two Lands (Neb-neswt tawi), Lord of Heaven (Neb-pet).[3] The writing runs from right to left.

The inscription on the rim of the chalice is to be read in two directions. From right to left, beginning with the Horus falcon, are the more rarely attested Horus name and Nebty name of Tutankhamun. From left to right, beginning with the ankh symbol, is the following:

May your ka live, may you spend millions of years, you, who love Thebes, sitting with your face to the north wind, your eyes beholding happiness.[4]

Because of the inscription, Howard Carter called the lotus chalice the King's Wishing Cup. The wish inscription from the lotus chalice is quoted on the second gravestone of Howard Carter.


In addition to being displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the lotus chalice was among the original finds selected for the first temporary exhibition of the grave goods of Tutankhamun. It was also on display with the exhibition number 39 in the world-touring Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition.


  • Jürgen Settgast. Alabaster-Kelch in Ausstellungskatalog Tutanchamun in Köln. von Zabern, Mainz 1980, ISBN 3-8053-0438-2, p. 138.
  • Zahi Hawass. King Tutankhamun. The Treasures Of The Tomb. Thames & Hudson, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-500-05151-1, p. 27.
  • T. G. H. James. Tutanchamun. Der ewige Glanz des jungen Pharaos. Müller, Köln 2000, ISBN 88-8095-545-4, p. 311.
  • M. V. Seton-Williams: Tutanchamun. Der Pharao. Das Grab. Der Goldschatz. Ebeling, Luxembourg 1980, ISBN 3-8105-1706-2, pp. 188–189.


  1. ^ Jaromir Malek. The Treasures of Tutankhamun. London 2006, ISBN 0-233-00197-2, p. 29.
  2. ^ Card/Transcription No.: 014-2
  3. ^ Karl-Theodor Zauzich: Hieroglyphen ohne Geheimnis. (= Kulturgeschichte der antiken Welt.). von Zabern, Darmstadt/ Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4267-4. S. 72-73.
  4. ^ Nicholas Reeves, John H. Taylor: Howard Carter before Tutankhamun. British Museum Press; London 1992, ISBN 0-714-10959-2, p. 188; T. G. H. James: Tutanchamun. Der ewige Glanz des jungen Pharaos. Köln 2000, p. 311.

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