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The coffin form, decoration and the character of the hieroglyphic signs find close parallels on objects from el-Hiba. The hieroglyph form and the mistakes, which are proof of a poor understanding of the text, date the object to the Late Ptolemaic or Early Roman period and suggest a provincial origins.

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Anthropoid coffin with striped wig, forming an upside down trapezoid on the underside. The coffin lid decorated in the upper part with an usekh necklace terminating in falcon protomes. Below a winged scarab holding a solar disc between the front pair of legs and the shen sign (protection) in the back pair. The lower part of the lid contains four registers of figural representations.
Register 1. In the center a geridon with offerings on the surface (different kinds of bread / cakes), on both sides of the gerydon stylized representations of green salad and three terioanthropomorphic mummiform deities holding a piece of cloth or ribbons in their hands (the form of these rolls of cloth may be a reference to the shen symbol). These deities are either the sons of Horus or guardians of the gate to the Underworld.
Register 2. In the center a symbol – fetish of the god Osiris from Abydos, flanked by two winged goddesses with solar discs on their heads, accompanied by female figures, probably Isis and Nephthys, with their hands raised to their mouths in mourning.
Register 3. Mummiform figure of Osiris in the center on an embalming table with lion's legs and head. Four canopic jars under the bed. Standing at the head of the bed are the terioanthropomorphic figures of Anubis (with a jackal's head?) and Horus (with a falcon's head?)
Register 4. Papyrus boat sailing the waters of the primeval ocean Nun. A solar disc combined with a crescent in the boat. An inscription with offering formula, bordered by multicolored frame, runs on the back.
The part containing the titles and name of the deceased is written in clearly different lettering, suggesting perhaps that it had been purchased as a ready product and the name of the deceased was only filled in afterwards.
On the feet a representation of mummified falcons with the menat symbol (necklace counterpart) in reverse. The falcons personify two opposite ends of the horizon, east and west. The coffin sides bear representations of regularly coiled snakes with crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt (white on the right and red on the left). They symbolize the two parts of Egypt, as well as the two goddesses, Isis and Nephthys.
An inscription with offering formula that repeat the texts placed on the back runs around the plinth, and the titles of the deceased are placed on the front. A checker band runs along the joining of the lid and coffin proper.
The coffin form, decoration and the character of the hieroglyphic signs find close parallels on objects from el-Hiba. The hieroglyph form and the mistakes, which are proof of a poor understanding of the text, date the object to the Late Ptolemaic or Early Roman period and suggest a provincial origins.

Elaborated by Krzysztof Babraj (Archaeological Museum in Kraków), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, translated by Iwona Zych, © all rights reserved

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Cartonnage coffin from el-Hiba

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