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Antiquities in the Fitzwilliam Museum.” A third, and even a fourth, coffin was sometimes used for one mummy.
The coffins of the XXth dynasty are good imitations of the best examples of the XIXth dynasty; the paintings are, however, neither so fine nor so carefully executed.
From the XXIst to the XXVIth dynasty coffins exhibit many varieties of decoration; they are sometimes painted black, or the wood is left altogether in its natural colour, and the faces are often red. Sometimes they are painted with inscriptions in many colours on a white ground, and the scenes on the covers are divided into two groups by perpendicular inscriptions between them. Faces of coffins of this period are also flesh coloured and gilded, and the eyes, made of obsidian, are inlaid between eyelids of the same material or of bronze. Notwithstanding the fact that mummies of this period are protected by cartonnage cases, they are laid in two and even three coffins. Akhmim coffins of this period are covered with rows of gods and elaborate collars, and are profusely inscribed with extracts from the Book of the Dead; the mummies inside them have gilded masks and are usually covered with a network of glazed fasence bugle beads, upon which are laid figures of Nut and the four children of Horus in smaller bead work. These coffins belong to a class which has little in common either with those of Memphis or Thebes. Favourite scenes on coffins from the XXIInd to the XXVIth dynasties are the weighing of the heart, and the soul visiting the body.
After the XXVIth dynasty the art of coffin making degenerated, and as a result the examples of this period known to us exhibit rough and careless work, the scenes of the weighing of the heart, etc., spread right across the cover, and the inscriptions show that the copyist had very little or no knowledge of their meaning. On the other hand very handsome coffins, in the form of a man, in granite and basalt, became fashionable, and the high polish and beauty of the cutting of the figures, inscriptions, etc., show that although the art of mummifying was decaying, and the national religion of Egypt changing, attempts were made to imitate ancient art in its best forms.
Coffins about B.C. 600.
Decay of the manufacture of coffins.
GraecoRoman coffins and their decoration.
Sarcophagi of the Ancient Empire.
Under the Ptolemies and Romans the forms of coffins and their decorations altered very much. Coffins are now made of thin pieces of wood, and are usually rectangular in shape, and the inscriptions upon them, like those on coffins of the earlier dynasties, are rarely extracts from the Book of the Dead. Sandals, pillows, red pottery, and papyri were often buried with the dead at this epoch. Stone coffins, covered with figures and inscriptions, are also common, but they are found chiefly in Lower Egypt. In the early centuries of our era, the decay of the art of making coffins followed that of mummifying, and the coffins are large, badly shaped and ugly, the inscriptions upon them are copies of old formulae, but so carelessly written and so full of mistakes that they are unintelligible. The custom of laying mummies in old tombs increased greatly, and chapels, Serdábs, pits and sarcophagi-chambers were alike used for piling up mummies by hundreds and thousands; and one single roll of papyrus or parchment laid in a tomb contained the names of all those who were buried there. This was practically the end of the Egyptian system of mummifying and burial. Within a hundred years of the preaching of Christianity at Alexandria by St. Mark, a large part of the population of Egypt had become Christian ; the resurrection of the body of Christ made the Egyptians hope for the resurrection of their own bodies, and though they could not eradicate from themselves all traces of their old belief, they abandoned gradually the making of their dead into mummies, and were content to lay their bodies in the earth, wrapped in linen cloths only, to await revivification.
Coffins of all periods were closed by dowels, let into cavities in the sides and cover, through which pegs of wood were driven; these were covered with plaster and painted, and were thus invisible.
Egyptian sarcophagi are made of black or green basalt, granite, agglomerate and limestone. During the first six dynasties they are rectangular, and the cover is either flat like a plank, or vaulted. Running round the edge of the inside of the cover is a projection about two inches deep, which is carefully chiselled to fit a hollow corresponding in size in the sarcophagus, and after the cover was lowered upon it, a layer of fine cement was run in between, and the sarcophagus became hermetically sealed. Not content with this, holes were drilled sideways through the cover and the sarcophagus, and into these pegs of wood were driven. Covers have usually at each end one or more projections, whereby it is easy to lift them; the magnificent sarcophagus of Chufu-ānch (IVth dynasty), preserved at Gizeh," has two rounded projections at each end of the cover. The sarcophagus of Mycerinus (IVth dynasty) found in his pyramid at Gizeh resembled a small building; it was beautifully sculptured, but was absolutely without ornament. Sarcophagi of this period have their sides made to represent the openings, vestibules, and doors of mastabas, and the inscriptions upon them usually contain only the names and titles of their owners, and prayers that sepulchral gifts may be made to the deceased on the specified festivals. Of the sarcophagi of the VII-Xth dynasties nothing is known. During the XIth and XIIth dynasties, rectangular wooden coffins seem to have superseded, in some measure, stone sarcophagi, royal examples of which of this period are unknown. A granite sarcophagus of this period at Florence resembles in form, style of inscription, etc., those of the first six dynasties. Sarcophagi from the XIIIth to the XVIIth dynasty are unknown. In the XVIIIth dynasty the sarcophagi of Memphis are in the form of a mummy, and are made of granite ; they are very sparingly ornamented. A perpendicular line of inscription runs from the breast to the feet, and the surface of the cover on each side of it is divided by three or more lines of inscription at right angles to it into sections on which are inscribed figures of gods. The sarcophagus of Ai is a good example of the work of this period.”
1 For a cast see B.M. No. 1 I 11.
Sarcophagus of Seti I.
Cover of Sarcophagus of Rameses III.
In the XIXth dynasty sarcophagi become somewhat smaller, but otherwise differ very little from those of the preceding dynasty. They are usually made of granite, but alabaster, as in that of Seti I., was also used. This magnificent object and its cover were inscribed inside and out with scenes and inscriptions from the “Book of being in the Underworld,” inlaid with a pigment of a light greenishblue colour. The cover was broken in trying to open it, but the sarcophagus itself is intact, and is preserved in Sir John Soane's Museum ; the inscriptions were published by Bonomi, Sarcophagus of Oi Meneptah, London, 1864, and for translations see Records of the Past, vol. X., pp. 79 f. The chief idea which underlies these scenes is that, just as the life of a man is identified with the course of the sun by day, so the life of the soul after death is identified with the passage of the sun in the nether-world, through which he was supposed to travel during the night. The scenes represent the various parts of the nether-world, and the beings who dwell in them : Isis and Nephthys, Horus the son of Isis and Osiris, Seb and Nut, the four children of Horus, are all inscribed on sarcophagi of this period, and all were supposed to assist in protecting the deceased, who was identified with Osiris. In this dynasty, large, painted, wooden sarcophagi, in the form of mummies, are also common at
In the XXth dynasty, granite was much used for sarcophagi, but the form has changed, and the deceased is represented lying on the cover. He wears a thick, square beard, his hands are freed from their bandages, and hold
in them #. | and *; beneath the long tunic the feet
appear, and on the sides of the sarcophagus are figures of the four children of Horus and of other funereal gods. A most interesting example of this period is the sarcophagus of Rameses III., which is made in the form of a cartouche C. ; the cover is preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum (for a description of it see the Catalogue), and the sarcophagus is in the Museum of the Louvre. On the head, outside, is the figure of Nephthys, with outstretched wings, emblematic of her protection of Osiris; the inscriptions give the names and titles of the king, and refer to the course of the sun in the nether-world. On the other side, by the feet, is Isis, also with outstretched wings; on one side is Ap-uat, and on the other Anubis, each jackal-headed. The two sides are ornamented with scenes and inscriptions referring to the passage of the sun, who is being towed along in his boat through the various divisions of the nether-world by their gods, and to his attack, defeat, and slaughter of Apepi, his chief enemy. Two scenes at the feet, in which Neith and Isis promise to put together the limbs of Osiris, complete the ornamentation of the outside." At the head, inside, are the solar disk, a mummy with a disk and star on his head, and a head of a goddess on each side holding out an arm, the hand of which supports a being who pours out water on the head of the deceased in the form of a mummy. On the sides are figures of an ithyphallic god, hawks, etc., forming scenes from the “Book of being in the Under-world.” At the foot is the god Cheperá in a disk around which are twined the folds of a serpent; above is the head of a ram being adored by figures of the king, by the sides of which are the cartouches of Rameses III. On the bottom of the sarcophagus is the figure of Hathor, goddess of Amenta, with wings outstretched to receive the deceased. The sarcophagi of the XXVIth dynasty are usually rectangular, and are made of green and black basalt, and variegated hard stone. Many of the scenes and inscriptions upon them are copied from sarcophagi of the XIXth and XXth dynasties, but long extracts from the Book of the Dead are characteristic of this period, and some sarcophagi are covered entirely with such funereal inscriptions,” with the exception of the spaces occupied by the figures of the deceased and Nut, on the outside and inside of the cover respectively, and the figure of Hathor on the bottom inside.