Mummy of Hornedjitef (inner coffin)

From Thebes, Egypt, Early Ptolemaic Period, 3rd century BC

The mummy of Hornedjitef was encased in a gilded cartonnage mask and cover, and two anthropoid (human-shaped) wooden coffins. The coffins follow traditional Egyptian funerary practice in form and decoration.


This, the inner coffin, has a fine gilded face, with curled and tapering beard and a richly decorated collar with terminals in the form of falcon heads. In the centre of this collar is depicted an image of the ba, and a pectoral (chest) ornament incorporating a scene in which Hornedjitef adores four deities. Below the collar is an image of the sun-god as a winged scarab beetle, flanked by baboons who worship the rising sun disc. A funerary text is inscribed in hieroglyphs below. Either side of the text are figures of deities: the four Sons of Horus and the goddesses Isis and Nephthys.

The interior of the lid is decorated with many figures, mostly relating to astronomy. Their position on the lid of the coffin is particularly appropriate, as the lid was symbolically identified with the heavens stretched above the deceased.

The central, full-face figure is that of the sky-goddess Nut, on whose body is written the text of chapter 89 of the Book of the Dead. To her left is a list of planets and decans (stars that rose every 10 days, by which the passage of time could be reckoned during the night). To the right of the goddess are the constellations of the northern hemisphere.


Hornedjitef

Hornedjitef was a priest in the Temple of Amun at Karnak during the reign of Ptolemy III (246-222 BC). CT scans of his mummy show that Hornedjitef was a mature man at his death, and his high status is reflected in his elaborate burial.

Video

The burial of Hornedjitef

Hornedjitef was buried on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, although the exact location of his tomb is not known.

Read more about the burial

Video

Restoring the mummy and cartonnage case of Hornedjitef

The fragile cartonnage case holding the mummy of Hornedjitef was carefully treated by specialist British Museum conservators.

Read about the conservation


Ancient Egypt

Video

Towards the end of the fourth millennium BC independent city-states unified to begin of over 3,000 years of pharaonic civilisation in the Nile Valley.

Ancient Egypt world culture

Ptolemaic period

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Object details

Length: 194.5 cm
Width: 60 cm

 

EA 6678

Room 62-63: Egyptian mummies

     

    Salt Collection

    References

    N. Strudwick, Masterpieces of ancient Egypt, (London, The British Museum Press, 2006)

    See this object in our Collection database online

    Further reading

    J. Taylor, John, Egyptian Mummies (London, The British Museum Press, 2010)

    A.S. Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (New Haven, 1999)

    E. R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)