Wm. Max Miller,
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21'st Dynasty Coffins from DB320
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The Treasures of Yuya and Tuyu
the funerary equipment of Queen Tiye's parents.
Raiders of KV 46
How thorough were the robbers who plundered the tomb of
Yuya and Tuyu? How many times was the tomb robbed, and what were the thieves
after? This study of post interment activity in KV 46 provides some answers.
Special KV 55 Section
Follow the trail of the missing treasures from mysterious KV 55.
55's Lost Objects: Where Are They Today?
The KV 55 Coffin Basin
and Gold Foil Sheets
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Mystery of the Missing Mummy Bands
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Unknown Man E
Was he really
Tomb of Maihirpre
Learn about Victor Loret's
important discovery of this nearly intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Who were the real tomb raiders?
What beliefs motivated their actions? A new perspective on the ancient practice
of tomb robbing.
Spend a Night
with the Royal Mummies
Read Pierre Loti's eerie account of
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Audience With Amenophis II Journey
once more with Pierre Loti as he explores the shadowy chambers of KV 35 in the
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Background Image: Wall scene from the tomb of Ramesses II (KV 7.) From Karl
Richard Lepsius, Denkmäler (Berlin: 1849-1859.)
The Coffins of Neskhons
Close inspection of inscriptions on the two coffins and coffin board of Neskhons revealed that they had originally belonged to a woman named Isiemkheb who has been tentatively identified by Kenneth Kitchen as Nekhons’ aunt, Isiemkheb-C, the wife of Menkheperre-A. (TIP, 474f.) Niwinski, however, proposes that the original owner of Neskhons’ coffins and coffin board was Pinudjem II's first wife Isiemkheb-D, whose mummy was also found in DB320. Niwinski argues that Pinudjem II turned his affections away from Isiemkheb-D when he married the younger Neskhons. When Neskhons unexpectedly died prior to having a suitable funerary ensemble prepared for her burial, Pinudjem II gave her his first wife’s coffins. Isiemkheb-D, now dispossessed of her original burial equipment, was forced to have a second set of coffins made for herself and these were the ones in which she was found in DB320. (JEA 74,  226ff.)
The mummy of Neskhons was discovered in only one of the two coffins--presumably the inner one, although
this cannot be determined with any certainty because the record of DB320's discovery and subsequent clearance is vague and often inconsistent on this point. The lid of this inner coffin
and the mummy board which accompanied it had both been damaged,
and had the gilded hands and faces removed. The outer coffin from this
set was intact. One of these two coffins was found to contain the mummy of Ramesses IX, but, thanks to the inefficient manner in which the find was documented, no one today can be certain about which mummy was found in which coffin.
Reeves proposes an interesting theory to explain how the
mummy of Ramesses IX ended up in one of the coffins of Neskhons. He speculates
that Neskhons may have donated one of her coffins for use in the burial of
Ramesses IX, and points out that linen dockets on this king's mummy indicate
that the linen employed to re-wrap him had been donated by Neskhons. Perhaps her
involvement with the reburial of Ramesses IX had gone beyond the provision of
fresh wrappings to also include the donation of one of her coffins. However, one
piece of evidence that could be used against this argument is the observable
fact that no attempt was made to modify either of Neskhons' coffins for the burial of a
male. Even the simple expedient of replacing the fully extended feminine hands on the coffin lids with masculine clenched hands was not attempted. Hands served as important gender markers on 21’st Dynasty “Yellow” coffins (hands with extended fingers were used for coffins of women and clenched hands appear on the coffins of men), and Rogerio Sousa observes that even when coffins had been hastily modified for recycling, “the hands are usually changed according to the sex of the new owner.” (GCSS, 61f.) Given this common practice of giving recycled coffins accurate gender markers, one would think that a coffin being piously donated for the reburial of a revered male ancestor would have received some form of modification to at least make it gender-appropriate. Edward Loring provides an even more telling argument against the “donation” theory formulated by Reeves by pointing out that Neskhons never had any coffins of her own to donate! She had obviously died young, before having a set of her own coffins prepared, which is precisely why she was given the coffins of Isiemkheb in the first place. (TRC, 71.)
Michel Dewachter theorizes that Ramesses IX was mistakenly put in Neskhon's coffin in DB 320 by necropolis workers during one of the caching operations. However, since Neskhon's original burial was in DB 320 in Year 5 of Siamun and occurred many years before the caching of Ramesses IX in the tomb (an event which occurred after Year 11 of Shoshenq I according to the chronology of Reeves), it seems unlikely that the kind of mix-up postulated by Dewachter would have occurred. Erhart Graef also proposes a mix-up of coffins and mummies but dates its occurrence to the time of DB320’s clearance in 1881. He argues that the heavy nested set of Neskhons' coffins would have been separated in order to make hoisting them up the deep entrance shaft of the tomb easier. Graef speculates that the mummy of Ramesses IX may have been found without a coffin and was placed in Neskhon’s outer coffin, which was conveniently empty and available at that moment, in order to safely ship it to Cairo. When the coffin arrived at its destination and was opened, it was erroneously assumed that Ramsses IX had been placed within it in ancient times. (TRC, 59.)
The kind of damage sustained by the coffins
(in which an intact outer coffin concealed a violated inner one) is familiar to
scholars of DB 320: the coffins and coffin boards of Maatkare-Mutemhet, Masaharta, and
Isiemkheb-D were all damaged in an identical fashion. Reeves argues that this type of pilfering was probably done by those who had official access to the burials rather than by thieves who later broke into the tomb. Salima Ikram and Aidan Dodson believe that members of Pinudjem II's burial party had engaged in such pilfering activities and had violated the coffins of Isiemkheb-D. Since the burial of Neskhons was in place in DB320 at the time of Pinudjem II’s burial, her coffins could have been subjected to pilfering by the same individuals. (Source Bibliography: CCR, 110ff.; pls. XLV, XLVII, XLIX; DRN, pp. 189, 213, no. 22; 218 n. 57; 219 n. 68; 256; GCSS, 61f; JEA 74,  226ff; MiAE, p. 330; TIP, p. 474f; TRC, 59, 71.) (Source
Black and white photo of Neskhons' outer coffin lid and interior of basin
from Georges Daressy's Cercueils des cachettes royales (Cairo, 1909.)
Color photo of outer coffin lid from CESRAS. Click black and white
photo to enlarge.
CESRAS close ups of the outer coffin's face.
CESRAS close up of outer coffin decorations.
CESRAS close up of outer coffin decorations.
CESRAS close up of outer coffin decorations.
(Left) Black and white photos of face of Neskhons' inner coffin lid and its reverse; (Right) inner coffin
basin from Georges Daressy's Cercueils des cachettes royales (Cairo, 1909.)
Click to enlarge.
Left: exterior of coffin board. Center: Interior of coffin board.
Right:CESRAS color photo of coffin board's exterior.
The Center for Egyptological Studies of the Russian Academy
of Sciences (CESRAS) maintains an extensive collection of
online images available for public use on Flickr. The above
CESRAS color images of the coffins and coffin board of Neskhons provide
a valuable photographic record of these beautiful objects, currently on display
at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Additionally, CESRAS has posted large size
scans of many of the photographic plates from George Daressy's historically
important 1909 work, Cercueils des cachettes royales which are also
featured on this page. More close up images of this coffin's decorations and
inscriptions may be seen by going to the CESRAS
Return to 21’st Dynasty Coffins Menu.