Wm. Max Miller,
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the funerary equipment of Queen Tiye's parents.
Raiders of KV 46
How thorough were the robbers who plundered the tomb of
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55's Lost Objects: Where Are They Today?
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Unknown Man E
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Audience With Amenophis II Journey
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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 Nodjmet
A close inspection of the coffins of Nodjmet revealed that they had originally been fashioned for an unidentified man (DRN, 213, no. 26) and had either been usurped from their original owner or perhaps donated by him. Since these coffins had been made for a male occupant, it is probably safe to assume that they had originally been decorated with the gender markers commonly used on men's coffins during the 21'st Dynasty, including striped wigs, face masks depicting ears, and clenched hands. If this was the case, then both coffins had been extensively modified for the burial of Nodjmet. The facemasks and wigs had been completely reworked: the ears were replaced with disc shaped earrings and the wigs were skillfully recarved to represent the finely braided hair that served as an important status symbol on coffins of elite 21'st Dynasty ladies. (GCSS, 50, n. 280.)
It is impossible to determine if anything had been done to modify the hands because they had been removed in antiquity. However, the underlying areas where these hands had once been attached are visible (especially on the inner coffin lid) and show the outlines of the gilded hands that had once covered them. These outlines indicate that the hands had been clenched. Although this proves that the coffins once featured clenched hands (as would be expected on coffins originally designed for a man’s burial) it does not show that these hands remained in place when the coffins were modified for Nodjmet. In view of the care that had been taken to make the wigs and face masks gender-appropriate for the coffin set's new female owner, it seems likely that the clenched hands would have been replaced with feminine pairs depicting the fingers fully extended. These could have easily been attached over the outlines of the original clenched hands and would have concealed the outlines from view.
Nodjmet's coffins had been extensively adzed over and show a pattern of damage
that can be interpreted as the work of two different groups of people, each having a different agenda.
Virtually all of the outer coffin's surface had been removed, indicating
that it had originally been lavishly decorated and had probably been
extensively coated in thick gold foil. This outer coating had been hacked off with an adze in a very crude and hurried fashion. The inner coffin, however--although also
having been subjected to extensive stripping with an adze--seems to have been handled with greater care,
and most of the inscriptions and symbolic elements were allowed to remain
intact. This type of selectivity and careful handling is not characteristic of plundering by
disrespectful tomb robbers, such as those who most probably stripped the outer coffin, nor does it resemble petty pilfering,
which typically targeted only gilded hands, face masks, and other gilded elements that could be quickly
detached while an inner coffin remained in place within the outer coffin. In addition to its gilded face mask and hands, lower and less
easily accessible portions of Nodjmet's inner coffin lid had been stripped in a careful processing job
probably done by Royal Necropolis officials who did not want to completely violate the coffin of
one of their royal ancestors. (Source Bibliography: CCR,
40ff; CP, 175; DRN, 201, 207, 213; GCSS, 50, n. 280.; MiAE, 127, 230, 329, ills. 133, 143, 429.)
Source Abbreviation Key
(Left) Black and white photo of Nodjmet's damaged outer coffin lid. (Right)
lid showing careful & selective removal of certain elements. From Georges Daressy's
Cercueils des cachettes royales (Cairo, 1909.) Click
photos to enlarge.
Damaged portrait mask from inner coffin. (Photo credit: CESRAS.)
Another view of damaged portrait mask from inner coffin. (Photo credit:
Close up of trough of outer coffin showing extensive adzing. (Photo credit:
Lower end of outer coffin trough showing thorough adzing. (Photo credit:
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 and 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 featured on this page. The above images of the
coffins of Nodjmet provide a valuable photographic record of these beautiful
objects, currently on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
More close up images of this coffin's decorations and
inscriptions may be seen by going to the
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