Mummy case of a boy named Pemsais

From Akhmim, Egypt
Late 1st century BC or early 1st century AD

This coffin is one of a group found in a family tomb in the cemeteries of Akhmim, a major provincial settlement in Upper Egypt during the Ptolemaic (332-30 BC) and Roman periods (30 BC to the fourth century AD). It is clear from its size that it belonged to a child, whose name is inscribed in demotic on the front, below the left hand. The coffin appears to have been constructed from mud and covered with linen.

The iconography is drawn predominantly from the art of the classical world, with only a few allusions to Egyptian funerary beliefs. Pemsais is represented in Hellenistic Greek costume. This consists of a blue under-tunic, a red tunic with blue and white stripes, and a white mantle, which is draped over the left shoulder and around the lower part of the body. The folds have been drawn in lines of paint. The face and hands are painted a pale flesh colour, but the bare feet, by contrast, are a deep red. On the head is a blue and pink head-dress with a raised band above the brow; this is perhaps intended to be a garland. Behind the head are painted scenes, including the mummification of the deceased, and figures of Egyptian deities.

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More information

Bibliography

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

Dimensions

Length: 89.000 cm
Width: 27.000 cm
Height: 24.500 cm

Museum number

EA 29589

YCA56017

Location

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