Object number: E.71.1903
Description: This rectangular box coffin belongs to a man named Khety, whose tomb was found, still intact, at Beni Hasan. The coffin inscriptions contain standard formulae calling for Osiris and Anubis to provide offerings for Khety’s use in the afterlife. Khety’s job titles are not specified, but it is likely that he was a fairly wealthy person since his burial included models of people working on his behalf, presumably reflecting his earthly standard of living as well as his intention for his status in the afterlife. An eye panel is painted on one side of the coffin to allow Khety to see out. The coffin dates to the Middle Kingdom (about 2010 – 1950 BC) and was given to the Museum by the Beni Hasan Excavation Committee.
Measurements: 50 x 186 x 44.4cm.
Analysis: The coffin is made of sycomore fig. The joints are secured with dowels, most of which are made of sidr. Each side of the box is constructed from two edge-jointed planks, tangentially sawn and only roughly finished. The corners are mitred with a small butt joint at the top. In addition to the dowels along each corner, there is a tied joint at top and bottom. Dowel holes along the bottom of the panels indicate how the base fitted within the walls. The lid is made of two full-length planks. On the underside are three roughly shaped retaining battens pegged into the planks across the centre and one at each end. The carpenters cut two marks into the top of the foot-end panel of the box to match up with marks on one of these battens, presumably to give an indication of which way round the lid fitted. The interior is bare wood, except for a thin white paste sealing the joints. On the exterior, a very thin discontinuous layer of calcite acts as a ground for the earth pigment paint. Flaws in the wood were filled with a rough paste and painted with a slightly darker paint. The placing of the text and the eyes is guided by drafting lines drawn against a straight edge using a reed pen. The lines continued from the coffin box to the lid, suggesting that the final decoration was applied after the coffin was complete and closed. The text was sketched in black then coloured with a thin layer of Egyptian blue. A small trail of blue droplets shows where the scribe let his brush drip onto the surface of the lid.
Commentary: Coming soon.
Other relevant objects in the Museum’s collection: E.71.a.1903, E.71.b.1903, E.71.c.1903, E.71.d.1903 and E.71.e.1903.