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Inner coffin of Shepenmehyt

 

Height: 171.000 cm

Gift of King Edward VII

EA 22814B

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    Inner coffin of Shepenmehyt

    From Qurna, Thebes, Egypt
    26th Dynasty, about 600 BC

    Scenes of the Afterlife

    Shepenmehyt's mummy was encased in two anthropoid (human-shaped) coffins, one inside the other. This is the inner of the two. It is covered inside and out with scenes and inscriptions relating to the Afterlife.

    The face of the dead woman is painted green, to emphasize her association with the god Osiris, who had strong links with vegetation, as a metaphor for rebirth. A scene painted across the torso shows, at right, the weighing of Shepenmehyt's heart in the balance of judgement, to determine whether or not she had lived a good life, free from wrongdoing. Having passed this test, she is shown clad in a red robe, and led by the ibis-headed Thoth towards a series of divinities, including Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and the Sons of Horus. Protective gods stand along both sides of the lid, each accompanied by a speech, announcing their guardianship over the dead woman.

    The interior of the coffin is decorated in a much more restrained style, with texts and figures of the goddess Nut drawn in black outline on a white ground. The request for funerary offerings is repeated. Usually on coffins of persons of higher status there are more specific extracts from the Book of the Dead.

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

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