Image Resources | Currently on View in Leah and Charles Redish Gallery
This coffin seems to date to the reign of Queen Hatshepsut, when non-royal coffins were covered in black pitch and simply adorned with colored pigments. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus described mummification as having three distinct phases. The first stage entailed the removal of all internal organs. The brain was removed through the nostrils with an iron tool, and the body was filled with myrrh, cassia, and other fragrant spices. Next, the body was placed in salt for 70 days. Finally, the body was wrapped in bands of linen and was ready to be placed in the coffin.
This is an interior coffin, which would have been within one or more larger sarcophagi. Anthropoid coffins first appeared during the Middle Kingdom, but rather than supplanting older styles, the Egyptians integrated innovation and tradition by layering coffins one inside the other. King Tutankhamun, for example, was buried inside four coffins enclosed in an external sarcophagus.