This elegant calcite headrest, consisting of three parts pegged together, was probably carved specifically for funerary use. It would have been placed under the head of the mummy as it lay on its left side in the coffin. Other headrests, often made of wood, were used as pillows for sleeping during life.

As early as Dynasty 3, headrests were portrayed on tomb walls and funerary stelae, attesting to their role in creating a comfortable afterlife. Further evidence for the significance of headrests is provided by their inclusion in even the poorest burials during the Old Kingdom. Ultimately, full-size headrests would be replaced by miniature versions, amulets often inscribed with Chapter 166 from the Book of the Dead, promising protection for the head of the deceased.


  • Title: Headrest with Fluted Pedestal
  • Location: Africa, Egypt
  • Physical Dimensions: 9 x 7 13/16 x 3 11/16 in. (22.9 x 19.9 x 9.3 cm)
  • Provenance: Collected for Emory University Museum by William Shelton.
  • Subject Keywords: headrests
  • Rights: © Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White
  • External Link: https://collections.carlos.emory.edu/objects/17307/
  • Medium: Calcite (Egyptian alabaster)
  • Art Movement: Egyptian
  • Period/Style: Old Kingdom
  • Dates: 2543-2120 BC
  • Classification: Ancient Egyptian Art

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps