The Coffin of Heqata

Book Details

Author  H Willems
Publisher  Peeters Publishers
Publication Date   January 1, 1995
ISBN  9068317695
Pages  370

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Description

The coffin published in this book represents a type that had some popularity in southern Upper Egypt in the early Middle Kingdom, but which, despite its extraordinary decoration had not attracted attention so far. The most striking feature of the decoration is that the object friezes - the pictorial rendering of ritual implements usually found on coffin interiors of the period - also include complete ritual scenes, some of which are attested only here. Apart from this, the decoration includes an extensive selection of the religious texts know as the Coffin Texts. studies the archaeological context and dating of the coffin and attempts a reconstruction of the construction procedures from his technical description of the monument. The detailed account of the decoration in the rest of the book interprets the ritual iconography and offers fresh translations and interpretations of the Coffin Texts. A methodological innovation is that he regards the scenes and texts not as individual decoration elements, but as components of an integral composition. The background of this composition is argued to be a view of life in the hereafter in which the deceased is involved in an unending cycle of ritual action which reflects the funerary rituals that were actually performed on earth. On the one hand, these netherworldly rituals aim at bringing the deceased to new life by mummification, on the other the newly regenerated deceased partakes in embalming rituals for gods representing his dead father (Osiris of Arum). These gods, in their turn, effectuate the deceased's regeneration. The entire process results in a cycle of resuscitation in which the afterlife of the deceased and of the 'father gods' are interdependent. The sociological bias of this interpretation, with its emphasis on kinship relations, differs significantly from earlier attempts to explain Egyptian funerary religion.

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