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EC644 and EC660

EC644EC660Limestone moulds such as these are common in museums. The one on the left shows a benu bird (EC644), a symbol of rebirth. For information on the benu bird see Tolmatcheva (2003). The one on the right shows Osiris the god of the dead (EC660) and also a symbol of rebirth. Some other moulds are in the shape of eggs. 

Some have suggested that moulds like this may have been used to produce faience or glass items. There were also a number of such moulds found at Abydos, belonging to the Late Period (Peet 1914, 96, fig. 58, pl. XXL). Steindorf (1946) states of a benu bird mould in the Walters Art Gallery ‘Similar moulds were put into tombs of the later period at the necropolis of Memphis; purpose and religious significance unknown’. Some 30 moulds of benu birds were also found at a cemetery in Mendes (Meulenaer and Mackay 1976, 17). 

However, an intact mould containing mummy material was found in a grave at Nitokris (Bietak and Reiser-Hauslauer 1982, 189, pl. 123). It has been suggested that these moulds, which mainly take the form of resurrection related figures such as benu birds, eggs and Osiris figures, could symbolise rebirth through the moulding of the mummy. I thank Elfriede Reisner-Hauslauer for this suggestion.


Bietak, M and Reiser-Hauslauer, E. 1982 Das Grab des ‘Anch-hor Obermeister der Gottesgemahlin Nitokris II p 189, pl. 123. 

Meulenaere, H. and Mackay, P. 1976. Mendes II. Warminster: Aris and Philips. 

Peet, 1914, The Cemeteries of Abydos II. 

Steindorf, George 1946 Egyptian Sculpture In the Walters Art Gallery Published by the Trustees, Baltimore. 

Tolmatcheva, E.G. 2003. A reconsideration of the Benu-bird in Egyptian Cosmogony. In Hawass, Z. and Brock, P.L. 2003. Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century‘ Vol. 2, 522-526.