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Sarcophagus of Pa-nehem-ese

Unknown199 BC - 99 BC

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
Vienna, Austria

The unusually broad face and the wealth of carefully-engraved depictions, symbols and inscriptions on the sarcophagus of the priest Pa-nehem-ese are characteristic features of Ptolemaic sarcophagi. The hard stone was carefully polished and the inscriptions engraved with care. The deceased is shown wearing a three-part wig; his forehead features a scarab flanked by goddesses. The scarab was regarded as the sacred animal of the sun-god and as a symbol of regeneration. Note the narrow collar engraved below his broad chin; it sits above a pectoral featuring a winged scarab flanked by the goddesses Isis and Nephtys. Below them squat two figures of Osiris flanking a cartouche with the Osiris-name Wen-nefer.Almost every inch of the surface of this mummy-shaped sarcophagus is covered with depictions and inscriptions. Figures of deities connected with the afterlife, the worship of the sun, the Ba, and the mummy on its bier dominate. The inscriptions record an ideal biography and countless funerary texts. Most of them deal with the sun’s night-time journey though the underworld. This is the leitmotif of all Ancient Egyptian “netherworld-texts”: in the course of the night the sun-god and his retinue travel through the underworld on a barque to be rejuvenated. During his journey he must avoid dangerous areas of the underworld before he is able to re-enter the world, renewed and refreshed.Text: © Regina Hölzl, Meisterwerke der Ägyptisch-Orientalischen Sammlung, Wien 2007.

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