Home Add to Favorite Contact Submit  
             22 November, 2019

Category:  Articles » Arts & Culture


Egyptian Coffins and Sarcophagus

         Views: 2890
2010-09-27 06:43:45     
Article by Gopal Dey

The term “Coffin” is usually applied to the rectangular or anthropoid container in which the Egyptians placed the mummified body, whereas the word “Sarcophagus” (Greek: “Flesh-Eating”) is used to refer only to the stone outer container, invariably encasing one or more coffins. The distinction made between these two items of Egyptian funerary equipment is therefore essentially an artificial one, since both shared the same role of protecting the body of the deceased. In terms of decoration and shape, coffins and sarcophagi drew on roughly the same iconographic stylistic repertoire.

The earliest burials in Egypt contain no coffins and were naturally desiccated by the hot sand. The separation of the body of deceased from the surrounding sand by the use of a coffin or sarcophagus ironically led to the deterioration of the body, perhaps stimulating developments in mummification. The religious purpose of the coffin was to ensure the well-being of the deceased in the afterlife, literally providing a “house” for the “Ka”.

The earliest coffins were baskets or simple plank constructions in which the body was placed in a flexed position. From these developed and valuated house-shaped coffins that remained in use into the fourth Dynasty (2613 – 2494 BC). At around this time, the Egyptians began to bury the deceased body in an extended position, perhaps because the increasingly common practice of evisceration made such an arrangement more suitable. By the end of the Old Kingdom (2181 BC), food offerings were being painted on the inside of coffins as an extra means of providing sustenance for the deceased in the event of the tomb chapel being destroyed or neglected. In the Old & Middle Kingdom, a pair of eyes was often painted on the side of the coffin that faced east when it was placed in the tomb. It was evidently believed that the deceased could therefore look out of the coffin to see his or her offerings and the world from which he or she had passed, as well as to view the rising Sun.

Decorated coffins became still more important in the First Intermediate Period (2181 – 2055 BC), when many tombs contained little mural decoration. It was thus essential that coffins themselves should incorporate the basic elements of the tomb and by the Middle Kingdom (2055 – 1650 BC), they often incorporated revised extracts of the Pyramid Texts, known as the coffin texts. This change reflects the increased identification of the afterlife with Osiris, rather than the Sun-God “Ra”.

Anthropoid coffins first appeared in the 12th Dynasty (1985 – 1795 BC), apparently serving as substitute bodies lest the original be destroyed. With the New Kingdom (1550 – 1069 BC), this form of coffins became more popular and the shape became identified with Osiris himself; his beard and crossed arms sometimes being added. The feathered, rishi coffins of the 17th and early 18th Dynasty were once thought to depict the wings of the goddess Isis, embracing her husband Osiris, but are now considered by some scholars to refer to the BA bird. Rectangular coffins were effectively replaced by anthropoid types in the 18th Dynasty; but some of their decorative elements were retained.

In the Third Intermediate Period (1069 – 747 BC), coffins, papyri and stelae became the main vehicles for funerary scenes that had previously been carved and painted on the walls of tomb chapels. The principal feature of most of the new scenes depicted on coffins was the Osirian and solar mythology surrounding the concept of rebirth, including the judgment of the deceased before Osiris and the journey into the underworld, the voyage of the Solar Bark and parts of the Litany of Ra. Among the new scenes introduced in the decoration of coffins and on funerary papyri was the depiction of the separation of the earth-god Geb from the sky-goddess Nut.

The excavation of the 21st & 22nd Dynasty royal tombs at Tanis has provided a number of examples of the royal coffins of the period (although the sarcophagi were sometimes reused from the New Kingdom). The cache of mummies of high priests of Amun at Deir el-Bahri has also yielded a large number of private coffins of the 21st Dynasty (1069 – 945 BC). It was also from the end of the New Kingdom onwards that the interiors of the coffins began to be decorated again; beneath the lid-especially in the 22nd Dynasty (945 – 715 BC), there was often a representation of Nut, while the “goddess of the West”, Hathor, or the Djed Pillar began to be portrayed on the coffin floor. During the Late Period, extracts from the Book of the Dead were sometimes also inscribed inside the coffin.

In the 25th Dynasty a new repertoire of coffin types, usually consisting of sets of two or three (including an inner case with pedestal, an intermediate anthropoid outer coffin), was introduced, becoming established practice by the 26th Dynasty. Late Period coffins were characterized by archaism, involving the reintroduction of the earlier styles of coffin decoration, such as the provision of the eye panel.

There are comparatively few excavated burials dating from c.525 to 350 BC, but more coffins have survived from the succeeding phase (30th Dynasty and early Ptolemaic Period), when they typically have disproportionately large heads and wigs. During the early Ptolemaic Period, many mummies were provided with cartonnage masks and plaques, fixed on to the body by strips of line.

Specialized in: Sadigh Gallery - Sadigh Gallery Art - Sadigh Gallery Ancient Art - Sadigh Gallery Ancient Art Company
URL: http://www.sadighgallery.com
Print article      Bookmark this page
Related Articles 
Beautify Your Home With Original Vintage Posters (Popularity: ): Original vintage posters can be an excellent choice if you are looking to beautify home walls or improve the look and feel of its interiors. Now the question is where you can find such vintage posters? The answer is Internet. By simply searching in the Internet, you can discover a great number of poster dealers. Many of them would claim to sell original vintage posters. However, you need to do ...
The Significance of Kids Magician in Birthday Parties (Popularity: ): Giving a dashing birthday party has become fashion among many contemporary parents. Celebrating the birthday of their son or daughter is not their only motto, but they try to reveal richness through the elaborate arrangements of stunning birthday parties. Any party of such kind will include light music, kids magician for entertaining the children in the audience and refreshment of all kinds of visitors. There are many event planners in ...
Immerse Yourself In The Music, Dance And Storytelling Culture Through North India Cultural Tours (Popularity: ): Diverse is one word that comes to mind when one thinks of India’s culture. There are twenty eight States, all vastly different from each other in terms of language, customs, traditions, cuisines and way of dressing. Each region has something unique to offer. A cultural tour is a great way to understand the enigma called India. North India in particular has a lot to offer on this front. North India ...
Getting audio video recording for an event (Popularity: ): Audio recording coupled with video recording is a money-spinning technique that helps to get two things done at the price of one. It is beneficial for all and sundry in the trade and involves gathering of information obtainable at a particular event. Accordingly, audio video recording for conferences as well as events have stretched out and nearly all the companies performs event video recording in order to have a remembrance ...
Banquet Halls Houston (Popularity: ): Banquet Halls In Houston- If you are looking for a banquet hall in Houston where the professional planners will handle every aspect of your event whether it's a wedding, reception, chapel ceremony, birthday, graduation, anniversary or corporate seminar and let you sit back and enjoy your event, Grande Vista, which is a Houston banquet hall, is the right choice. Our professional party planners have years of experience planning and guiding ...

Related Business 
Egyptian Museum - Rameses I (Popularity: ): Museum in the Niagara Falls hosting a collection of Egyptian mummies, coffins and ancient artifacts.
The Egyptian Palace (Popularity: ): Custom designed Egyptian decorative accents. Offering Egyptian pillows and wallpaper borders.
Egyptian Soccer Online (Popularity: ): Daily updated news about the Egyptian League, the Egyptian National soccer team, and professionals in Europe.
Egyptian Players Online (Popularity: ): News of Egyptian soccer and of Egyptian players around the world.
Lavish Mart (Popularity: ): LAVISHMART a royal egyptian cotton & linen bedding store encompasses a wide range of 100% Pure Egyptian cotton products. Our bed linen are made by the suppliers of the world’s finest Egyptian cotton linens. LAVISHMART'products are all exclusively made out of 100% Pure Egyptian cotton.
The-project (Popularity: ): Sarcophagus provides Web-based information management systems and project extranets to the construction industry.
Egyptian Cargo (Popularity: ): Papyrus paintings by Egyptian artists, featuring members of ancienty royalty.
Gold Pyramid Egyptian Bazaar (Popularity: ): Offers rare and stock Egyptian culture items in their online catalog.
North Wind Egyptian Arabians (Popularity: ): Breeding rare Obeyyan Um Jurrays strain of the Egyptian Arabian horse.
Scorewell UK Ltd. (Popularity: ): Egyptian cotton bedding - single, double, king bed & superking bed in fitted sheets, pillow cases, duvet covers and flat sheets - Material 100% Egyptian PERCALE cotton 200 threads per square inch easy care machine washable Egyptian cotton.