Wooden sarcophagus lid, 1800-1760 BC.

Wooden sarcophagus lid, 1800-1760 BC.
Period:Egypt, 2nd Intermediate Period, Dynasty 13
Dating:1800 BC–1750 BC
Origin:Egypt, Lower Egypt, Memphis
Material:Wood (undetermined)
Physical:50cm. (19.5 in.) -

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Links to others of type Coffin/sarcophagus of humans

Gilded mask, Thebes, 1100-1000 BC
Mummy mask of a young woman, Dyn. 18
Wooden sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 26
  This portrait carved in wood is really the sawed off upper section of a royal sarcophagus lid. The rest of the sarcophagus, which would have provided the identity of its owner, was probably discarded as superfluous cargo by unscrupulous tomb raiders.

The original dark paint, worn in places, now reveals the grain and warmth of the wood underneath. A majestic headdress frames with its tresses the tranquil expression of a man who died long ago, and whose self-assured smile has perdured for millennia. His lips are expressively detailed. His slightly stylized ears, shown forward of the headdress, are rendered with elegant elongated simplicity. His Osirian beard is narrow, long, and finishes in a curved flourish. The style, the intense majesty, the inner strength of this work evokes the time of late Dynasty 12 or early 13 when King Hor's Ka statue within a shrine (now at the Cairo museum) was sculpted.

Sarcophagus is a Greek term used in Egyptology to designate a container made to protect a mummified body (the term literally means “body eater”). Although we are guilty here of using the term loosely, the generally accepted convention today is to use ‘sarcophagus’ for a stone container, and ‘coffin’ for a wooden or metal container.

Initially, Egyptian coffins were rectangular (sometimes with arched tops). They were decorated with symbolically charged motifs and ritual texts. Around Dynasty 12 (Middle Kingdom) appeared the first anthropomorphic coffins, which followed the general shape of the human body. By the New Kingdom, royal burial sets had become very elaborate: “The mummy. . . lay in three mummiform coffins; the innermost is made of solid gold, and the other two of wood covered with sheet gold. . . [the] set of anthropomorphic coffins was laid into a rectangular or cartouche-shaped sarcophagus, which in turn was surrounded by several chapel-like wooden structures. . .” (Redford 2001:[1]283).

Bibliography (for this item)

Khalil, Hassan M.
1976 Preliminary Studies on the Sanusret Collection. Manuscript, Musée l’Egypte et le Monde Antique, Monaco-Ville, Monaco. ([III] 223-225)

Tiradritti, Francesco
1998 Egyptian Treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. White Star Publishers, Vercelli, Italy. (135)

Vandier, J.
1958 Manuel d’archeologie égyptienne. A. et J. Picard, Paris, France.

Bibliography (on Sarcophagus)

Redford, Donald B.
2001 Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, London. (283)

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