The image at the top of our left-hand navigation menu is based on a symbolic motif found on the walls of many Egyptian tombs, including some in the Royal Valley. It depicts the jackal-headed Anubis, the deity who presided over mummification in his animal-headed form. He is in the process of preparing a mummy, and scholars believe that the priests who officiated at mummification ceremonies on the west bank of the Nile wore masks representing this jackal-headed god. The western desert was the domain of the jackal, whose eerie cry still echoes through the Valley of the Kings.
The ancient Egyptian association of jackals with death and embalming may have been based on empirical observation. Jackals are primarily scavengers, and would have found Predynastic burials with their unembalmed bodies easy to dig up. Some of these bodies would have become naturally preserved due to the desiccating action of the hot, dry sand in which they were placed, leading Predynastic observers of the jackals' actions to conclude that jackals were magically responsible for the preservation of such corpses. For more data on the beginnings of mummification, see A. J. Spencer, Death in Ancient Egypt (Penguin Books, 1982), 29ff.
The banners now appearing at the tops of all our pages incorporate figurative elements from various ancient Egyptian sources. The topmost banner shown below depicts Ramesses II as copied by Gaetano Rosellini from a bas-relief at Abu Simbel. The other three banners use elements from 21'st Dynasty coffins discovered in the DB320 cache tomb. The first of these derives from the outer coffin of Tayuheret and depicts Anubis, the god of mummification, in his jackal-headed form. The next banner comes from the outer coffin of Tayuheret’s husband Masaharta, the 21'st Dynasty High Priest of Amun, whose remains were found in the cache tomb along with those of his wife. The bottom banner employs a figurative element from the coffin of Neskhons, one of the wives of Pinudjem II, whose mummy was also discovered in DB320. The vignettes used in the last two banners depict Masaharta and Neskhons giving offerings to the gods and were photographed by CESRAS as part of their ongoing study of 21'st Dynasty coffins. They appear, along with numerous other detailed photographs, on the CESRAS Tayuheret Photostream, the CESRAS Masaharta Photostream and the CESRAS Neskhons Photostream. The mummies of Tayuheret, Masaharta and Neskhons may be viewed in our 21'st Dynasty Galleries, and pages devoted to their coffins now appear in our 21'st Dynasty Coffins from DB320 section which may be accessed by using the menu that appears on the left side of all our pages.
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