Coffin of a woman

From Akhmim, Egypt
Early Roman Period, late 1st century BC to early 1st century AD

The British Museum has a number of mummy cases from a tomb at Akhmim (near Sohag) discovered around 1896. They were probably part of a family group, dating to this period.
This anthropoid (human-shaped) coffin is made from gilded and painted papyrus. The owner wears clothes which were fashionable at the end of the Hellenistic period. She probably lived at the same time as the lady Taminis. Their clothes are similar.

The contours of this woman's figure are emphasized by the coloured bands of her clothes. Her pink undergarment can be seen only at her ankles, while her blue overgarment is visible both here and on her chest. Her striped shawl is fastened at her chest by a blue and gold lotus bud. The dancing figures on the edges of her apron, and the Greek meander design on the lower border and on the sleeves are of Hellenistic origin.

Gold is used from head to foot to highlight important features on the coffin. The garland of red and blue flowers is bound with gold. The lady's jewellery and fashionable sandals are picked out in gold. Her face is gilded to show that she reached the Afterlife (the flesh of the gods was believed to be of gold). Moulding is used to indicate individual beads on the necklace and the design on the bracelet and sandals, as well as the details on the discs over the breasts.

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More information


D.B Redford, Pharaonic king-lists, annals a (Mississauga, Benben, 1986)

S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, Ancient faces: mummy portrai-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

C.A.R. Andrews, Egyptian mummies (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Length: 151.000 cm
Width: 54.000 cm
Height: 48.000 cm

Museum number

EA 29586


Sir E.A.T. Wallis Budge


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