Lid of a Child's Coffin



Lid of a Child's Coffin


722-525 BC


Late Period, Dynasty 25 - Dynasty 26


Coniferous wood, pigment, gesso
17 11/16 x 51 3/16 x 10 in. (44.9 x 130 x 25.4 cm)

Object Number

1999.001.006 B


This finely crafted coffin contains the mummy of a child, approximately two years of age. Although the cause of death cannot be determined, this mummy does have one very interesting feature, or lack thereof: the legs of the mummy are missing just below the knees, and the absence of any signs of healing suggests that the damage was postmortem.

The sparse, simple ornamentation of the coffin highlights the beautifully grained wood. Only the face, wig, and floral collar are painted, with a single column of text running the length of the coffin. The heavy features and broad face are characteristic of the Twenty-fifth, or Nubian, Dynasty, though the minimal decoration suggests that this coffin may have come from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. The elegant figure painted inside the base represents one of the goddesses charged with protecting the deceased-perhaps Nut, Hathor, or the Goddess of the West. The preparation of the mummy offers further evidence of a date in the Twenty-fifth or Twenty-sixth Dynasty. The wide band of red linen vertically encircling the mummy is a distinctive feature of wrappings during this period. In many cases, the mummy was completely covered by a red shroud or a sheet with red borders.

The truncated proportions of the coffin, along with the rarity of coffins constructed specifically for children, suggest that the child within was not the intended occupant. The bottom of the coffin was cut off and a new foot added in a rather makeshift manner, effectively "downsizing" the coffin for a child. The inscription, identifying the owner and requesting offerings for his sustenance in the afterlife, was clearly added after the coffin was reworked, since it extends onto the replacement foot.

High mortality rates among infants and children in ancient Egypt meant that few families were financially able to provide a coffin for every child they buried. This fact, combined with the quality of the coffin, indicate that the deceased, a boy named Hori, belonged to a family of some status.

Credit Line

Charlotte Lichirie Collection of Egyptian Art


Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, Tallahassee, Florida, August 22 - November 27, 2005|
Napoleon in Egypt, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia, January 13 - March 26, 2006
Peter Lacovara, "The New Galleries of Egyptian and Near Eastern Art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum," Minerva 12 (2001), 9-16.|
Peter Lacovara and Betsy Teasley Trope, The Realm of Osiris (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2001), 55.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Peter Harholdt.
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“Lid of a Child's Coffin,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed December 11, 2018,

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