Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Outer Coffin of Tabakenkhonsu

Late Period, Kushite
Dynasty 25
ca. 680–670 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Hathor Shrine, pit in hypostyle hall, Egypt Exploration Fund excavations, 1894–95
Wood, gesso, paint, stucco
L. 199.5cm (78 9/16 in); W. 72.4 cm (28 1/2 in); H. 57.5 cm (22 5/8 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1896
Accession Number:
96.4.1a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 126
Found at a sealed chamber at the bottom of a small shaft sunk into the floor of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, this nest of wooden coffins contained the mummy of a Mistress of the House named Tabakenkhonsu. This elite woman, the descendent of three generations of Priests of Montu, Lord of Thebes, lived about 800 years after the temple was built. During this period, a number of priestly families used the temple, which still functioned as a place of worship, for their tombs. The burials of Tabakenkhonsu, another Priest of Montu, Djeddjehutyiufankh, who was most likely her husband, and her probable mother-in-law, Nesmutaatneru, were found undisturbed, with dried wreaths of flowers from their funerals still adorning the coffins.

The rectangular outer coffin, with corner posts and a vaulted lid, echoes the form of early shrines, the jackal and birds of prey on its lid symbolizing divinities who guarded the god's body. The two inner coffins are anthropoid, representing Tabakhenkhonsu in her divinized form, identified with Osiris himself for eternity. The larger of these coffins (96.4.2a, b), which has sloping human-shaped feet, is relatively plain, decorated with several bands of inscription; the innermost (96.4.3a, b), which has a square base under the feet, is covered with religious texts and illustrations designed to ensure the deceased a safe journey to the realm of the blessed dead and her eternal existence there.

For the stela found wtih the coffins, see 96.4.4; for the bead net found on the mummy, see 96.4.5.
Naville excavations sponsored by the Egypt Exploration Fund. Acquired by the EEF in the division of finds. Given by the EEF to the Museum for its contribution to the excavations, 1896.

Gillett, Charles R. Rev. 1898. Catalogue of the Egyptian Antiquities in Halls 3 and 4, Metropolitan Museum of Art Handbook, 4. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 140-141.

Metropolitan Museum of Art 1911. A Handbook of the Egyptian Rooms. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 167, fig. 69.

Bianchi, Robert 1976. "Varia Metropolitana." In Göttinger Miszellen, 22, p. 22.

Vittmann, Günter 1978. Priester und Beamte im Theben der Spätzeit. Vienna, p. 55 and table, p. 56.

Aston, David 2009. Burial Assemblages of Dynasty 21–25: Chronology – Typology – Developments. Contributions to the chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean, vol. 21, Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie, 56. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, p. 214.

Jansen-Winkeln, Karl 2009. Inschriften der Spätzeit, Teil III: Die 25. Dynastie. Harrassowitz Verlag, pp. 441-2, cat. no. 52.172.

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