Views inside a painted wooden coffin

It is impossible not to see this object when you enter the Artifact Lab, as it’s front and center, and immediately impressive, due to its well-preserved painted details:

view of lab with coffin with arrowThis is the lower-half of a Third Intermediate Period (21st Dynasty?) painted wooden coffin, that recently came up to the Artifact Lab. Our visitors are always commenting on how vibrant the colors are, and that is mostly based on what they can see from the exterior. But the interior of this coffin is fully decorated, and arguably even more impressive, and I promised some people this week that I’d post photos of the interior soon. Here they are:

Overall view of the interior of the coffin from above

Overall view of the interior of the coffin from above

coffin right side

View of the right side

coffin left side

View of the left side

View of the interior, top of the coffin

View of the interior, top of the coffin

The only areas on the coffin that are not decorated are the exterior of the back, and both sides of the foot/base.

All in all, this coffin is in great condition, but it needs some treatment, including surface cleaning and stabilization of the wood and paint in some areas.

There are also a few mysterious things about it, in particular, these drilled holes in the back – what the heck are these all about?

There are 8 rows of holes drilled through the back of the coffin

There are 8 rows of holes drilled through the back of the coffin

Stay tuned as we investigate further.

 

  • BL

    I would guess the holes were made so it could be displayed upright

    • mgleeson

      There are just so many of the holes that it would really be overkill for an upright display. They appear more like drainage holes. I’m currently investigating this theory…

      • BL

        Yes, looking closer, I can see that they are all over the place. They seem to cut through the decoration, so I guess they don’t date to the time the coffin was made. On the other hand they seem quite irregularly placed, so they don’t look too modern.

  • CJ Bucks

    Hi there! Can you let me know the accession number for this piece? And did you ever get anywhere with these holes? I’m actually researching the same question at the moment, and have found a number of similar examples. Thanks!