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W486Pottery coffins

This pottery coffin lid is one of four examples which are in the Egypt Centre collection. Sir Henry Wellcome purchased them in 1913 at auction. They had been part of the collection owned by Robert De Rustafjaell (Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities owned by Robert De Rustafjaell. Sotheby Auction 20.1.1913 lot 436 and 437). We do not know from where Rustafjaell collected them. 

Such coffins are often found in Egypt, in the Delta area, and in Nubia. Because similar pottery coffins are found in Palestinine it is sometimes believed that they may show a Palestinian connection. However, the painted depictions of gods, the collars, etc. are distinctively Egyptian. It could be that these were simply pottery alternatives for wooden coffins, perhaps cheaper versions. However, some of the 19th Dynasty pottery coffins from Riqqeh contained mummified bodies and high quality amulets. Both mummification and high quality amulets show that these were not the burials of the poorest in society. 

Pottery anthropoid coffins seem to date from the New Kingdom, however, the style of the Egypt Centre examples suggests that they may be from the Graeco-Roman Period. 

Cotelle-Michell (2004, figs. 117, 120, 54, 281-283) states that these coffins may have come from Upper Egypt or from Nubia.  

Further Reading

Cotelle-Michel, L. 2004. Les Sarcophagus En Terre Cuite en Egypte et en Nubie de l’Epoque Predynastique a l’Epoque Romaine, Dijon: Louis Faton. 

Dothan, T. 1967. The Philistines and their Material Culture. 257-286. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

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