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Siltstone sarcophagus of Sasobek


Length: 225.000 cm

EA 17

Room 4: Egyptian sculpture

    Siltstone sarcophagus of Sasobek

    Perhaps from Sais, Egypt
    26th Dynasty, around 630 BC

    The northern vizier of Egypt

    This is the sarcophagus of Sasobek, the vizier (prime minister) of the northern part of Egypt in the reign of Psammetichus I (664-610 BC). It may have been found in Sais, the city from which Psammetichus' family came.

    The sarcophagus is one of the finest examples of its type, and very well preserved. While many anthropoid (human-shaped) sarcophagi have rather exaggerated features, Sasobek's face is naturalistic (although not a portrait) and serene. Sasobek holds the pillar representing the god Osiris in one hand and the knot of the goddess Isis in the other.

    Stone sarcophagi were first used in Egypt for burying the dead at the beginning of the Old Kingdom (about 2613 BC). The first examples of containers for the body that echoed the human form are from the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC), but made of wood only. The first stone anthropoid sarcophagi were made in the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC), although generally only for people of the highest rank, including kings.

    M-L Buhl, The Late Egyptian anthropoid s (Kobenhavn, 1959)

    S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


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