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Outer coffin of the priest Hor


British Museum

British Museum

From the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC) onwards multiple coffins were often used in the burials of wealthy individuals. In the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) and for a millennium afterwards, these coffins were anthropoid (human-shaped). During the Twenty-fifth Dynasty a new coffin shape replaced the outer anthropoid. The outer coffin of Hor is typical of this new type: rectangular, with a tall post at each corner, and a vaulted lid The decoration is picked out in various colours against a background of plain wood, rather like the coffins of the Middle Kingdom, some 1300 years earlier (for example, the coffin of Gua, also in The British Museum). On the sides of the coffin are mummified figures of demon gatekeepers, holding large knives. They are accompanied by spells from the Book of the Dead to help the deceased to pass them without difficulty. A pair of wedjat eyes are located on the end of the lid, above the head of the deceased. These first appeared on coffins at the end of the Old Kingdom. They were originally intended to allow the deceased to watch the sun rise and look out on the world. The figures of Isis and Nephthys, and Anubis lying on his shrine are other elements familiar from coffins of the New Kingdom.

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  • Title: Outer coffin of the priest Hor
  • Date Created: -700/-680
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 204.50cm; Width: 76.20cm; Height: 91.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Registration number: 1880,0521.1
  • Place: Found/Acquired Thebes
  • Period/culture: 25th Dynasty
  • Material: wood; metal
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Morten & Son
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