Funerary Mask of Thājite Princess

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The Thāj mask (القناع الجنائزي لأميرة ثاج) is a gold funerary mask made of gold, discovered in the archaeological area of Tell al-Zayer (also spelled as Tel al-Zair). The mask is now housed in the National Museum of Riyadh.


The funerary mask has been dated back to the first century CE Hellenistic era, when the Arabian Peninsula was connected to the Mediterranean world. The gold-mask was discovered in her tomb along with exquisite pieces of jewelry and some other objects.

Although believed to be a funerary mask, probably representing the deceased girl, the actual purpose is not much clear. Other theories may include religious iconism; embodying an important religious figure presented to gods as a gift.

The settlement of Thāj is one of the most prominent settlements discovered in the eastern region. Preliminary studies show that the first inhabitation in the area was most likely around 500 BCE, extending in to the later eras until Islamic ages.


circa 100 CE

The burial was discovered in 1998, during the construction of a house in the area. The most intriguing aspect of the burial is that it seems to be inspired by the ancient Hellenistic practices, even though the tomb was found in the northeastern desert of Arabia.

The young girl belonging to the royal family was not more than 10 years of age. She was shrouded in cloth, laid on a matted bed made out of wood, lead and bronze, decorated with Mediterranean-style ornaments. Next to her were four statues of women made in classical style that may have formed the legs of the wooden bed.

Roads of Araia Exhibit

circa 2019 CE

The Thāj Mask is part of the "Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia", one of the most important exhibits regarding the history and archaeology of ancient Arabia. It portrays the cultural depth and traditions of Arabian peninsula, dating back to thousands of years.



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