Wooden coffin with the mummy of Ankhef

From Asyut, Egypt
12th Dynasty, around 1900 BC

Ankhef, an official at Asyut, was a middle-aged man who was at least 45 when he died. He suffered from osteoarthritis in his spine and left hip, but seems to have been otherwise generally healthy. The headrest which was placed close to his head was probably one of his personal possessions. His coffin is decorated with funerary texts to help him to enter the Afterlife.
Once a mummified body had been bandaged, it was wrapped in a shroud, or funerary cloth. A mask covering the head and shoulders was the last element to be added. This was made of cartonnage, moulded linen stiffened with plaster. The mask represented the face of the deceased, but was not really a portrait. The only real examples of portraits on mummies in ancient Egypt are the Fayum mummy portraits of the Roman Period, such as that of Artemidorus, which is in The British Museum.

The mask of Ankhef was made to represent the deceased as he would appear in the Afterlife, with the golden skin of a divine being. Masks continued to be used in Egyptian burials for about 2500 years. Some were gilded and those of royalty, such as that of Tutankhamun, were made entirely of gold and inlaid with semi-precious stones.

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Wooden coffin with the mummy of Ankhef

Coffin of Ankhef

  • Interior of coffin: mask of Ankhef

    Interior of coffin: mask of Ankhef


More information


W.R. Dawson and P.H.K. Gray, Catalogue of Egyptian antiquit (London, 1968)

T.G.H. James, Ancient Egypt: the land and it (London, 1988)

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


Length: 183.000 cm (coffin)
Length: 183.000 cm (coffin)

Museum number

EA 46631


Excavated by D. G. Hogarth


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