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Burial customs: coffins in the Old Kingdom (about 2686-2181 BC)

The first coffins - mostly badly preserved - might have been simple wooden boxes. They are already attested in the Naqada Period.

example in Digital Egypt:

Qau tomb 1629

In the Early Dynastic Period there are wooden coffins attested which copy a palace facade. This kind of coffin seems to be in use till the end of the Old Kingdom (about 2686-2181 BC) .

example in Digital Egypt for Universities:

Tarkhan/Kafr Ammar tomb 532

Tarkhan, coffin; unpublished excavation photograph

Tarkhan/Kafr Ammar, unpublished excavation photograph
(click on the image to see a larger picture)

Sarcophagi (stone coffins) are attested for the first time in the Third Dynasty. They are common at Gizeh/Dahshur/Saqqara (the cemeteries of the capital), but not in the provinces. Coffins and sarcophagi are sometimes inscribed with titles and the name of the owner. Such inscriptions are not very common before the Sixth Dynasty.

In the Sixth Dynasty a standard coffin type developed. A long wooden box with one inscription line on each side and two eyes on the East (=left) side. The dead was normally placed in it lying on the left side, head to the North looking to the East.

examples in Digital Egypt for Universities:

Sedment tomb 421
Sedment tomb 1580

further reading:



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