Death is only the beginning: ancient Egyptian coffins

Coffins are one of the most ubiquitous, instantly recognisable types of artefact from ancient Egypt, despite their style and shape changing and adapting over the millennia.

Although some are plain in style and decoration, many are packed to the rafters with texts and depictions of deities and mummification; it can be overwhelming to look at sometimes.

In this project, I to photograph coffins from different angles, often including only part of the coffin to explore shape and texture and to pick out all those fascinating little details to reduce overwhelm and bring focus.

All photos are © Julia Thorne. Please don’t just take my photos, but if you’d like to use any in a lecture presentation or blog post, please drop me an email via my contact page. Thanks.

ancient egyptian eyes painted on a wooden coffin
Detail of painted eyes on the coffin board of Ipi [Middle Kingdom | Beni Hasan | Garstang Museum of Archaeology | Acc. No. E.577]
ancient egyptian wooden coffin
Wooden coffin lid dating from the 18th Dynasty, reused in the 21st Dynasty [Garstang Museum of Archaeology | Acc. No. IA.1200]
an ancient egyptian wrapped mummy in a coffin
Wooden coffin and wrapped mummy of Tasheriankh [Ptolemaic period | Manchester Museum | Acc. No. 13783 | 99 x 201 x 70 cm]
the side of an ancient egyptian wooden coffin and wrapped mummy
Hieroglyphic texts down the side of the wooden coffin and mummy of Tasheriankh [Ptolemaic period | Manchester Museum | Acc. No. 13783 | 99 x 201 x 70 cm]
the feet of an ancient egyptian coffin
Details of Anubis on the feet of the wooden coffin of Tasheriankh [Ptolemaic period | Manchester Museum | Acc. No. 13783 | 99 x 201 x 70 cm]
the feet of an ancient egyptian coffin
Bound captives on the feet of the gilded mummy of Isaious [Greco-Roman period | Hawara | Manchester Museum | Acc. No. 11630 | 163 x 40 cm]
ancient egyptian cover for a mummy with a scarab beetle
Detail of a cartonnage coffin lid for a young woman or adolescent girl [Roman period | Manchester Museum | Acc. No. 1763 | 150.5 cm]
an ancient egyptian gilded mummy
Gilded mummy of the Lady Isaious [Greco-Roman period | Hawara | Manchester Museum | Acc. No. 11630 | 163 x 40 cm]
ancient egyptian anthropoid coffin
The coffin of In-amun-nay-es-neb, Thebes, 26th Dynasty [Bristol Museum and Art Gallery | H4555.1]
an ancient egyptian coffin
The coffin of Pedi-tehuty, from Meir, Late Period [Bristol Museum and Art Gallery | H4308]

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