Ancient Egypt, Late Dynastic to Ptolemaic Period, ca. 664 to 30 BCE. A wonderful hardwood panel fragment from a Late Period coffin exhibiting an inscribed hieroglyphic register which contains a partial prayer to the deceased. The rectangular panel has a partial tenon on one side with a perforation meant to receive a dowel, and a pair of incised bars encloses the hieroglyphs. The hieroglyphs are read left to right in this case and when translated state, "Recitation by [the deities] Anubis, who is both on top of his mountain and in the place of embalming, [and by] Osiris who is in charge of the funerary bier . . . When they both shine upon Egypt [on behalf of] the overseer of foremen of the craftsmen in . . ." Lucite display stands for photography purposes only. Size: 26.125" L x 2.3" W (66.4 cm x 5.8 cm)
Anthropoid coffins first appeared during the Middle Kingdom era - skillfully carved so as to outline the mummy's body and decorated with the visage and wig of the deceased individual. Such coffins not only served to copy the mummy's form kept within, but also as actual substitutes for the bodies in the event that the body of the deceased was lost or destroyed. As time progressed, these coffins were decorated with more extensive iconographic and hieroglyphic programs, presenting a greater number of inscriptions as we see in this example.
Provenance: ex-private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-Pasha Khabasha collection, dispersed prior to 1970
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This is a fragment of a larger coffin panel. Repaired from two large pieces, with small chips and light adhesive residue along break lines. Partial loss to tenon as shown. Abrasions and a few stable fissures across body and peripheries, with very light encrustations within some hieroglyphs. Great patina throughout. Hieroglyphs are still legible.