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Cartonnage case of Nesperennub

  • Top half of case

    Top half of case

  • Bottom half of case

    Bottom half of case


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Mummy: The Inside Story

The painted cartonnage case

Inside Nesperennub's outer wooden coffin was an elaborately painted cartonnage case. This was made by applying up to twenty layers of linen soaked in glue or plaster to a disposable, mummy-shaped core, probably of mud and straw. While the linen layers were still pliable, a long incision was made at the back and the core was removed. The mummy was put inside the tough shell through this opening and then the two sides were tightly laced together with string. This type of coffin was cheaper and easier to make than one of stone or wood, and once the mummy was sealed inside, the case could not be removed without breaking it. This prevented reuse of coffins by unscrupulous mortuary officials.

After being coated with fine white plaster, the cartonnage case was painted. The upper section shows the sun god as a scarab beetle with a falcon's head and wings, with two serpent goddesses and the four Sons of Horus flanking the funerary god Osiris-Sokar below. The lower section is dominated by the domed and feathered emblem of Osiris. There is an image of the Apis bull on the footboard of the case; one of his functions was to carry the dead to their tombs.

The text on the front of the cartonnage case reads: 'An offering which the king gives to Osiris, so that he might give life to the Beloved of the God, the Libationer of Khons of Benenet, Nesperennub, son of the like-titled Ankhefenkhons, justified.' This reveals that Nesperennub and his father worked as priests in the great religious complex of Karnak.

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