Egyptology: Quick fact 2 – Pyramid Texts & Anthropoid Coffins

Egyptology: Quick fact 2 –

Pyramid Texts & Anthropoid Coffins

By: Donald Rose (Egyptologyman)

Another list of quick facts which interest me and so I hope interest you.

1.)  The term “Pyramid Texts”, derive their name from the fact that they appear on the internal walls and walls of adjoining rooms of the burial chambers of pyramids. Texts mainly written on the inner surfaces of wooden coffins, the outside of coffins and sometimes also on tomb walls or papyri are known as “Coffin Texts”. All these texts reflect the importance that was attached to securing the happy existence of the dead in the afterlife.

The predominant content of these texts were compositions such as ritual spells, the rest were hymns, prayers, litanies and magical spells for warding off dangerous animals.

At the beginning of the New Kingdom an innovation in funerary customs took place, which was the use of anthropoid coffins to replace rectangular sarcophagi for new burials. These coffins were so called, because they took on the recognisable shape of a body. In an anthropoid coffin the position of the head and shoulders of the mummy inside can be easily visualised. Funerary texts also developed over time and started to include a lot of art work making them very lengthy.

These new style anthropoid coffins lacked sufficient space on their surfaces to inscribe the new collection of funerary spells. This development no doubt influenced the emergence and wide acceptance of papyrus rolls as the usual medium for texts. Papyri of any length, with a variable number of spells, could be rolled up and placed inside the coffin, to be at hand by the deceased if needed.

Anthropoid Coffin of the Servant of the Great Place, Teti, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, ca. 1339 B.C.-1307 B.C., Wood, painted, 33-1/4 x 18-13/16 x 81 1/2

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Egyptology: Quick fact 2 – Pyramid Texts & Anthropoid Coffins

Pyramid Texts & Anthropoid Coffins

By: Donald Rose (Egyptologyman)

Another list of quick facts which interest me and so I hope interest you.

1.)  The term “Pyramid Texts”, derive their name from the fact that they appear on the internal walls and walls of adjoining rooms of the burial chambers of pyramids. Texts mainly written on the inner surfaces of wooden coffins, the outside of coffins and sometimes also on tomb walls or papyri are known as “Coffin Texts”. All these texts reflect the importance that was attached to securing the happy existence of the dead in the afterlife.

The predominant content of these texts were compositions such as ritual spells, the rest were hymns, prayers, litanies and magical spells for warding off dangerous animals.

At the beginning of the New Kingdom an innovation in funerary customs took place, which was the use of anthropoid coffins to replace rectangular sarcophagi for new burials. These coffins were so called, because they took on the recognisable shape of a body. In an anthropoid coffin the position of the head and shoulders of the mummy inside can be easily visualised. Funerary texts also developed over time and started to include a lot of art work making them very lengthy.

These new style anthropoid coffins lacked sufficient space on their surfaces to inscribe the new collection of funerary spells. This development no doubt influenced the emergence and wide acceptance of papyrus rolls as the usual medium for texts. Papyri of any length, with a variable number of spells, could be rolled up and placed inside the coffin, to be at hand by the deceased if needed.