Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 110

The mummies of the ancient Egyptian elite were placed into wooden coffins; in some cases, these coffins were further enclosed in outer coffins of wood or in stone sarcophagi. This sarcophagus has a vaulted lid and the bottom is shaped as if the case stood on four battens, useful for wooden coffins but not for stone. The piece thus represents a wooden coffin in stone. Unlike most wooden coffins, this stone example is not decorated, demonstrating the delight Egyptians took in the nobility of simple stone surfaces.

At each end of the lid the stonemasons left a knob to facilitate the handling of the heavy piece. After the lid was put in place, the knobs were removed.

This coffin was found with a stone canopic chest (see 09.180.528b.1–.2).

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