Charlotte Hunkeler

Manufacture, Iconography, and Epigraphy of Inner Coffins as a Mirror of Continuity and Change of Funerary Practice During the Transitional Phase of the 22nd to the 25th Dynasty (First Millennium) in Thebes (Working Title)

This thesis is based at the University of Basel. First examiner is Prof Dr Susanne Bickel (University of Basel), second examiner is Dr Christian Greco (head of the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy), and third examiner is Prof Dr Salima Ikram (American University, Cairo).

As with all ancient Egyptian intermediate periods, also the Third Intermediate Period (1069–664 BC; 21st to 25th Dynasty) was marked by a restructuring of society, beliefs, and customs. In regard to funerary practices, the Third Intermediate Period witnessed a shift of emphasis away from tomb structures and towards the body of the dead itself. The new mummification techniques aimed to make the body as complete and perfect as possible. The emerging use of additional inner body-containers supported this goal and underlined the idealized and transfigured status of the deceased. Intermediary coffins protected the dead on his/her journey to the netherworld, while the outer coffins replaced the religious functions of a tomb.
Research on the development of Third Intermediate Period coffins, apart from the Yellow Coffins of the 21st and early 22nd Dynasty, has so far only been conducted sporadically. Coffins of the 22nd to the 25th Dynasty have been researched solely in regard to individual coffins or sets. The ritual significance of the body container, the focus on materiality and manufacture, and the question of reuse have only been discussed briefly and still form desiderata in the current research of coffins. Moreover, the transition from one period to another within the Third Intermediate Period has not yet been the focus of direct research. The study of inner body-containers, especially regarding the change and continuity of manufacturing techniques, material, decoration schemes, and epigraphy can allow significant insight into the evolution of religious beliefs and ritual practices and thus, they will form the basis of my studies. To do so, my thesis will be based on a corpus of inner-most contiguous envelopes of the dead coming from Thebes, including cartonnage cases, cartonnage coffins, and wooden coffins dating to the transitional phase of the 22nd to the 25th Dynasty.

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