Coffin Box of Aset (Isis)



Wooden mummiform coffin box belonging to Aset (Isis), 'lady of the house' and 'chantress of Amun' and identified in the inscriptions as the great-great-granddaughter of the Fourth Prophet of Amun Djedkhonsefankh 'A': a priest whose career flourished under Osorkon I and probably under Takelot and Osorkon II, in the early 9th century BC. Along the upper edge of each side of the coffin is a single horizontal band of inscription that for the most part consists of details of the genealogy of Aset. These are two offering formulas, commencing at the head-end and sharing the hetep element, which is set at the back of the head. On the left-hand side the gods invoked are Atum, Ptah-soker and Osiris-Wennefer. On either side of the coffin are two horizontal bands containing vertical columns of inscription, interspersed with panels containing vignettes. The upper band commences at the feet end on the right-hand side and works its way round to the feet on the left-hand side. The text is based on Spell 145 of the Book of the Dead (Start of the gateways of the Field of Reeds of the domain of Osiris). The lower band travels in the opposite direction, from the feet on the left-hand side to the feet on the right-hand side. The text for the lower band is taken from Spell 146 of the Book of the Dead (Start of the gateways of the domain of Osiris in the Field of Reeds). This coffin came to England containing a mummy of the early Roman period (M13997a) and a heavily restored/forged coffin lid. Conservation work in February 1965 found that, "in the lower half of the coffin, all but one of the mortice holes contain quantities of blue faience beads. In one hole alone there are about 90 whole beads. Many have been crushed by the tenons or pegs but a large proportion are perfect. The beads were embedded in a soft fibrous substance, resembling wood fibre, but were easily dislodged.". These will be the remains of a bead net placed over a mummy that once kept within this coffin. From the beginning of the first millennium BC onwards, an intricate bead net was placed as the final layer of wrapping for mummies.