Anthropoid Sarcophagus of Butehamon

Anthropoid Sarcophagus of Butehamon

Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXI (990-970 BC)

 Anthropoid Sarcophagus of Butehamon

 

Wood, painted and varnished
Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXI (990-970 BC)
Provenance: Thebes, TT 291, later Drovetti Collection, 1824
Nn. Inv. C. 2236, 2237 (CGT 10102, 10103)Inv. Nrs. C. 2236, 2237 (CGT 10102, 10103)
On the whole, tombs were no longer decorated in the Third Intermediate Period so that the earlier wall paintings depicting iconographic scenes and funerary texts were transferred to very elaborately painted coffins. Butehamon, the royal scribe of the necropolis was buried in this anthropoid (human-shaped) sarcophagus, distinctive for Dynasty XXI. It was placed in yet another lidded coffin with an extra ‘false’ lid. The deceased wears a richly plaited long wig that is bound by a diadem of lotus buds (a symbol of rebirth), and the curled and plaited divine beard (straight beards were reserved for the living). In his crossed arms he holds the djed- amulet (symbolising one of the columns which supported the heaven, and also represents the spine of Osiris and the word ’to endure’) and the tyet-amulet (a protective knot). Below his arms is the solar bark held aloft by a group of baboons, and below that is a large winged figure of the goddess Neith. The rest of the figure is decorated with sacred texts arranged like mummy bandages, which border religious scenes. No surface is left undecorated. The interior of the coffin is gessoed white and covered with the texts relating to the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ritual, written in cursive hieratic.