Coffin Lid

About this object

In a dramatic photograph taken in the days after the May Blitz this coffin lid is shown being rescued from the charred rubble of World Museum (see the Before and After section).

Dating to more than 2,300 years ago (Ptolemaic and Roman Periods), the coffin was excavated at Esna, Egypt in 1905-06 by John Garstang, honorary reader in Egyptian archaeology at University of Liverpool. World Museum had contributed £100 towards the excavations and as a result they received a large number of items from the dig for the museum’s collection. Many of the pieces presented to the museum were in pieces.

The coffin arrived in 10 pieces and was repaired in 1906 ready for display in the Main Hall of the museum. It was also on display on the night of 3 May 1941. The coffin lid was found in the rubble of the museum. It was cracked in several places, the nose and feet had broken off, and the surface was darkened by smoke. In 2008 the coffin lid was restored for display after over 60 years in storage. So far no record has been found for the coffin base or the contents that may have been associated with the find.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Ptolemaic Period
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Esna
  • Date made
    332 BC - 30 BC about
  • Materials
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the Egyptian Excavations Committee of the Institute of Archaeology, Liverpool
  • Collector
    Liverpool University Institute of Archaeology
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Esna
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    130 mm x 520 mm x 1730 mm
  • Note
    Compare with Cotelle-Michel, Les sarcophages en terre cuite (2004), p. 280 [a Ptolemaic painted coffin from Aswan, tomb 888; see Firth, 1912, pl. 31a,c];
  • Related people
    Liverpool University Institute of Archaeology ( Collector, previous owner)


Previous owners

Object view = Humanities
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