Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coffin of the Lady of the House, Weretwahset, Reinscribed for Bensuipet..., Ca. 1292-1190, B.C.E.

A typical coffin set would have included a coffin lid and a separate mummy board. In the original coffin set for Weretwahset the lid and board were combined. Generally, the lid would have been decorated to present the body of the deceased to the god Osiris, but in this example Weretwahse wears a dress that she would have worn in life. About two hundred years after Weretwahset died, this coffin was reused by someone named Bensuipet. Bensuipet added the mask and body cover, and erased Weretwahse’s name from the coffin in order to add her own.

Edward Bleiberg on the Oldest Work in To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum

Female Figure
From Ma'mariya. Predynastic Period, Naqada IIa (circa 3500-3400 B.C.). Terracotta, painted.

Zahi Hawass on King Tut: The Boy King's Treasures (New Kingdom)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Docent Note: Egyptian Cosmetics and Hygiene, To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum

by Joan Elder

Egyptian Cosmetics
Cosmetics, discovered in tombs and on the bodies of both men and women, have been found dating back to 4,000 B.C. They served ornamental as well as spiritual and medicinal purposes.

Implements: Combs, hairpins, mirrors, makeup boxes/pots/bowls, tubes for kohl, applicators, etc.

Ingredients: Most cosmetics were mixed in fats, oils (especially from nuts), bees wax and similar compounds. The minerals used were from a variety of colored earth, stones and ores. Costly lapis lazuli and malachite were imported. Some ingredients were questionable, such as fly dung. Oils were used, with or without added ingredients, to protect the skin and to treat skin diseases.

The rich employed "face painters" to apply their makeup. They did not like dark skin, which was natural to them, and often used white foundation. There were special anti-aging creams, oil based with various infusions from plant materials. Most Egyptians didn't live much past their 40's, but their skin tended to wrinkle from the sun.

Eyes: The most widely used eye makeup was kohl, a compound of galena, a grey lead sulfide ore, combined with soot, burnt almonds and other ingredients. Black eye liner protected from glare. Also used was a green makeup madefrom imported malachite. Unadorned eyes were considered vulnerable to the evil eye. The adorned eye was also believed sacred to the gods.
Lips/Cheeks: Lips were colored blue-black or red. Red ochre for rouge.
Feet, hands and nails: Evidence of henna, a plant-derived dye used today on hair and skin, was discovered in tombs in about 1500 B.C. It was used to tint the nails and also to adorn the feet of royalty with various designs.

Egyptian Hygiene [Source: Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century B.C.]

Bathing: The rich bathed often; we don't really know too much about the poorer classes, but there were canals and, of course, the Nile, where one might bathe. One had to watch for crocodiles. Those who did bathe used natron for soap or a paste of ash or clay mixed with oils. A papyrus from 1500 B.C. tell of mixing vegetable oils with alkaline salts to cure and/or prevent skin diseases.

Most people walked barefoot and floors of homes were compacted dirt. Many homes had foot baths and some of the rich actually had bathtubs. Wash basins were commonplace. There would often be a jug of salt solutions nearby for cleansing as well as sand for scouring. Herodotus claimed that most people washed upon arising as well as before and after meals. Lice were a problem and the entire body was often shaved. Oils were also used to kill body lice. Physician's recipes for deodorants have been found. One recommends mixing incense, myrrh, lettuce and fruit of the n(?) plant and rubbing it all over the body.

Herodotus also tells us that the white linen garments commonly worn were carefully washed and bleached in the sun.

Incense and Perfumes
The Egyptians loved pleasant smells which they associated with the gods. Perfumes were a large export item. They were oil based and scented with roots, spices such as cinnamon, flowers and bitter almond. Balls of perfumed wax were sometimes worn on women's heads and allowed to melt in the heat. Incense was widely used, mostly frankincense, myrrh and fragrant woods.

Tour Framework: To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum Tour Framework

Sarcophagus Lids for Pa-di-Djehuti and Pa-di-Inpu, ca. 305-30 B.C.E.
These two large stone sarcophagus lids were made for a wealthy royal scribe and priest named Pa-di-Inpu and his son Pa-di-Djehuti. They are examples of the expensive tomb equipment we expect for all Egyptians. Yet only a limited group of people could afford burial in such elaborate stone coffins. Members of less-wealthy families made coffins from low-quality wood or even terracotta.

Pa-di-Djehuti: the Limestone sarcophagus lid of a man with wig and false beard has three vertical registers of hieroglyphs running down the front of the piece. The translation of these is as follows: “Royal scribe, accountant of all things, scribe of Anubis of Hiffonon. Thatpe-her (?) son of the royal scribe of the books of the temple of Hiffonon Pedi-Anubis, born of a priestess of Uazit of Hiffonon Set-ari-ban”.

Sarcophagus Lid for Pa-di-Inpu: a limestone sarcophagus lid of a man with a wig and beard. Three vertical registers of hieroglyphs run down the lower front. The translation is “Royal scribe, accountant of all things, priest of Hathor of Hebenis (the XVIth Nome of Upper Egypt), scribe of Anubis of Hiffonon (XVIIIth Nome of Upper Egypt), Pedi-Anubis, son of the Royal scribe, Pedi-Anubis born of a priestess of Uazit of Hiffonon Thet.”

Pyramidion of a Woman, ca. 1185-718 B.C.E.
Reliefs on four sides of this small pyramid from a woman’s tomb depict basic aspects of Egyptian belief. The deceased worships Osiris in the niche and Re on the back, the two major gods connected to the afterlife. On the right side, a human-headed bird representing the ba-soul, which travels outside the tomb, perches on a djed-pillar, a symbol of rebirth. The deceased is followed by two demigods. On the left side, the gods Horus and Thoth perform part of the funeral purification ritual on the deceased’s mummy.

Anthropoid Coffin of the Servant of the Great Place, Teti, ca. 1339-1307 B.C.E.
Egyptians after the New Kingdom desired coffins representing them as Osiris. This coffin was made for Teti, a “Servant of the Great Place.” This title was used by artisans who painted tombs in the Valley of the Kings and lived in Deir el-Medina. As a middle-class artisan, Teti paid nearly a year’s salary for a coffin of this quality. He was able to use five different paint colors to decorate his wooden coffin, including blue, yellow, red, black, and white. The yellow background paint with red streaks is used to imitate the gilded coffins of the wealthy.

Seated Statue of the Superintendent of the Granary Irukaptah, 2425-2350 B.C.E.
This statue functioned as a place for Irukaptah—also known as Kenu, a fifth dynasty dignitary—to receive offerings from this world to convey to the next world. The Egyptians believed that the ka-soul could inhabit a statue like this. Scenes of offering carved on the sides of this chair show men offering fowl, linen, and food in containers. On the back, two women offer objects in a chest and perhaps bread. These scenes substitute for or augment scenes of offerings that were carved on the walls of the tomb. Irukaptah was titled “Master Butcher of the Great House King’s Wab Priest.” His tomb near Saqqara is known widely as the “Butcher’s Tomb.”

Triad of Isis, the Child Horus, and Nepthys, 305-30 B.C.E.
After Osiris went to the afterlife, Isis raised her son Horus with the help of her sister Nephthys. Isis hid her son from his jealous uncle Seth, who had killed Osiris and taken the throne of Egypt from him. Amulets like this were placed on the lower torso of the mummy and protected the deceased as Isis and Nephthys protected Horus.

Statue of Horus as a Child, 664-332 B.C.E.
Horus grew up to challenge his uncle Seth, who had taken the throne from Osiris. A human child who wore this amulet received the protection that Isis had given to the child Horus. Such amulets continued to be worn after death.

Mummiform Figure of Osiris, 664-332 B.C.E.
The inscription identifies this figure as Osiris. He wears the crown of ostrich feathers, a sun-disk, and the ram’s horns that identify him as a king. Yet he is also in the form of a mummy with the curled beard worn by the dead. The figure stands on a hollow base in which a papyrus with a spell written on it was stored.

Relief with Netherworld Deities, ca. 1332 – 1250 B.C.E.
This relief carving is from the tomb of Yepu, an high official of ancient Egypt. The carving illustrates Spell 145 from The Book of the Dead when the deceased approaches the guardian deities of the fourth and sixth gates of the netherworld. The words inscribed on the carving were to be recited upon reaching the gates. A wealthy individual in ancient Egypt would have made sure to incorporate spells into many different forms so that he or she would remember all of them upon reaching the netherworld. In addition to this relief carving, which would have been affixed to his tomb’s wall, Yepu also likely had a papyrus version of The Book of the Dead.

Sheet from an Amduat: What is in the Netherworld, 945-712 B.C.E.
The Amduat—also known as The Book of the Dead—included spells that a deceased person would need to know and recite to speed his or her journey into the afterlife. This copy was made for a high-ranking priest of the god Amun. Most remaining examples of The Book of the Dead are only partially intact. This sheet contains Spell 15, which includes writing that gives the genealogy of the deceased and the name of the god Re-Har-akhty-Atum.

Gaming Board Inscribed for Amenhotep III, 1390-1353 B.C.E.
This board and gaming pieces were used to play a game the ancient Egyptians called senet—which loosely translates to “passing.” The game was played by two people, each of whom used seven game pieces to advance, jump over their opponent’s pieces, and eventually remove their pieces from the board. The first player to remove all of their game pieces won rebirth into the afterlife. Game boards such as this were used for over three thousand years in Egypt and were often included in tombs.

Block Statue of Padimahes
This statue of Padimahes would have been placed in a temple after his death. It is believed that his forward gaze was directed towards a temple procession. Padimahes’s ba-soul—the part of the human soul that remains with the body of the deceased after death, but which can travel in the mortal world and the afterlife—would have been able to share in the offerings made to the god in the temple, but would have then returned to the tomb.

Block Statue of Nesthoth, 305-30 B.C.E.
Nesthoth was named to honor the god Thoth. The baboon wearing the moon-disk, carved on his lower legs, is a symbol of Thoth.

Elaborately Painted Shroud of Neferhotep, Son of Herrotiou
This shroud for the mummy of Neferhotep was likely made during a time of Roman rule in Egypt, and thus it has Roman stylistic influences. The shroud bears a Roman-style portrait, similar to the panel portrait found on Demetrios’s mummy seen nearby in this gallery. Neferhotep’s mummy would have been less expensive, however, because the portrait was painted directly on the shroud instead of on a wooden panel, and because it was made with tempera paint instead of encaustic paints. When this shroud was excavated by French Egyptologist Bernard Bruyère in 1948, parts of it were missing. The darkened parts of the ultraviolet photograph reproduced here show areas of restoration undertaken around 1970.

Image of Ba-bird on a Footpiece from a Coffin, ca. 945-712 B.C.E.
The human-headed bird represents the ba-soul, part of the Egyptian soul that could leave the tomb and travel both in this world and in the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians recited spells to ensure that the ba returned to the mummy from its various journeys to maintain the proper burial.

Statuette of a Standing Hippopotamus, ca. 1938 -1539, B.C.E.
In ancient Egypt, Seth was disliked because he killed his brother, king Osiris, and then claimed the throne. Seth became known as the god of chaos and was often represented by the symbol of a hippopotamus. In an Egyptian tomb, negative forces were controlled by including a statue of a hippopotamus with broken legs. The lotus flowers on the sides of the hippopotamus signify how the animal might have appeared as if it were standing in the Nile River among natural vegetation.

Mummy of a Dog, Mummified Dog
Sometimes very wealthy ancient Egyptians chose to mummify their pets. Most often, however, such animal mummies were offerings to the gods. The animals mummified represented a god or goddess, such as the cat belonging to the goddess Bastet or the ibis belonging to the god Thoth. Some animal mummies contained a papyrus with a request to the god written on it.

The Mummy of Demtri[o]s, 95 – 100, C.E.
With Roman stylistic influences, this mummy of a wealthy Greek person known as Demetrios was likely made during a time when the Romans ruled Egypt. Made with expensive imported materials, it reveals the wealth of the deceased. A linen shroud is wrapped on top of this mummy’s bandages and painted with red pigment imported from Spain. The face of Demetrios is depicted in Roman-style on a wooden panel using pigments and encaustic. Artists also used gold leaf to incorporate divine Egyptian symbols, the name of the deceased, and his age (59 years) at the time of death. Researchers recently used a medical imaging method known as a CT scan to x-ray this mummy, revealing that Demetrios suffered from gallstones during his lifetime.

Headrest with Two Images of the God Bes
Headrests like this were used to support the heads of living persons while sleeping, but they are also found supporting heads of the deceased inside coffins. This headrest was likely made for a tomb because an offering prayer is inscribed on the supporting column. The prayer on the headrest also could have been added after the death of its owner.

Canopic Jars (Jackal, Hawk, Human, Baboon)
Canopic jars were used by ancient Egyptians to store mummified internal organs. Each organ was kept in a separate jar and preserved for the afterlife. Such jars first appeared in the royal tomb of Hetepheres, the mother of Khufu and builder of the Great Pyramid. The canopic jars seen here, however, were typical of those used by the middle-class. These more affordable jars were “dummies,” whose vessels were never hollowed out to actually hold organs, yet were sill included in the tomb of the deceased.

Panel from the Coffin of a Woman
This coffin is decorated with hieroglyphic texts invoking both national gods and the local gods of Asyut. A stand with five jars of oil, a bed with seven linen bags of materials for mummification, a mirror, and a pair ofsandals are all depicted on the coffin’s side, magically ensuring their presence in the tomb and with the deceased forever.

Standing Figure of Bes
Bes was the deity who protected women in childbirth and children during life and in the tomb. The god Bes had the face and tail of a lion, the legs of a dwarf, and a feathered headdress. Just as he protected the act of birth in the living world, he also aided rebirth into the next world. Bes amulets were made from many different materials, but the most prized were gold.

Statuette of Sennefer,ca. 1938-1837 B.C.E; Statuette of a Striding Man, ca. 2288-2170, B.C.E.
Carved from a softer, and therefore lower-grade limestone, these sculptures reveals less detail than some of those carved of harder limestone, diorite, or granite nearby. Though nearly all ancient Egyptian statues were painted, the paint on these statuettes hides the lower-grade stone used.

Coffin of the Lady of the House, Weretwahset, Reinscribed…
A typical coffin set would have included a coffin lid and a separate mummy board. In the original coffin set for Weretwahset the lid and board were combined. Generally, the lid would have been decorated to present the body of the deceased to the god Osiris, but in this example Weretwahse wears a dress that she would have worn in life. About two hundred years after Weretwahset died, this coffin was reused by someone named Bensuipet. Bensuipet added the mask and body cover, and erased Weretwahse’s name from the coffin in order to add her own.

Mummy Caronnage of a Woman, ca. 1st century C.E.
Head and Chest from a Sarcophagus, 4th century C.E.
These mummy covers convey the extremes between wealth and poverty in Roman Egypt. The professionally crafted, gilded, and inlaid mummy cartonnage was for a woman whose life and death were spent in luxury. In contrast, the hand-modeled and simply painted terracotta mask was probably fashioned by the woman it represented or a family member of the deceased. While both covers protected each mummy adequately, the different materials demonstrate how different social classes prepared the necessary objects for the next world.

Seated Statuette of Si-Hathor, ca. 1818-1630 B.C.E.
This statuette combines the seated image of the deceased with the base where the inscription would normally be carved (as in Seated Statuette of Sekhemka shown nearby). Here, the artist carved the offering prayer directly onto Si-Hathor’s garment, a solution that saved on the amount of stone to be purchased.

The Meaning of Amulets
Amulets were small objects worn by the living or attached to a mummy after death as a means of protection. Depending on what one could afford, amulets were made from either gold, precious stones, or simple ceramic faience.

The following kinds of amulets are in this exhibition:

Ba Amulets
These amulets were placed on the chest of the mummy. They ensured the return of the ba-soul, which could travel from the tomb to the world of the living and to the afterlife. Though the mummy was the ba’s home, The Book of the Dead suggests that Egyptians feared the ba might not always return. They believed that ba amulets could substitute for the true ba. These types of amulets were made from precious gemstones such as lapis lazuli, as well as less-expensive materials such as faience and glass.

Bes Amulets
These amulets were worn suspended from a chain around the neck. Bes was the deity who protected women in childbirth and children during life and in the tomb. The god Bes had the face and tail of a lion, the legs of a dwarf, and a feathered headdress. Just as he protected the act of birth in the living world, he also aided rebirth into the next world. Bes amulets were made from many different materials, but the most prized were gold.

Wadjet or Eye Amulets
Ancient Egyptians believed the moon to be the eye of the god Horus, represented symbolically by the wadjet-eye commonly depicted on amulets. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, the eye of Horus can be injured and healed. The wadjet-eye is probably the most common amulet, and was made from almost all materials.

Djed Amulets
The Book of the Dead refers to the djed as the backbone of the god Osiris, which allows him to rise up in the afterlife. The djed symbol may have originally come from the form of a tree trunk that was elevated during Osiris’s ceremony of resurrection. The hieroglyph on a djed translates to “enduring.”

Hollow Cylindrical Amulets
Amulets like this were suspended from a cord and worn around the neck. They contained a piece of papyrus with a written spell that offered protection to women and children. They are known only from the Middle and New Kingdoms and belonged to royalty and high-ranking members of society.

Heart Scarabs
Heart scarabs were placed over a mummy’s heart in the tomb. They were a specialized type of amulet shaped like a dung beetle. These beetles were known for pushing small pellets of dung, which reminded ancient Egyptians of how the sun god Re travelled across the sky. Heart scarabs were inscribed with a spell from The Book of the Dead imploring the heart not to testify against the deceased at the judgment of the dead.

Nefertum Amulets
Nefertum was the son of the great gods of Memphis, Ptah and Sekhmet. These three gods formed an alternative divine family parallel to Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Like the amulets of Horus, those of Nefertum were worn to protect young people in this life and the next.

Tyt Amulets
The Book of the Dead instructed ancient Egyptians to place a red jasper tyt amulet on the neck of the mummy. Shaped like the goddess Isis’ belt, the amulet guaranteed that she would protect the mummy.

Ancient Egyptians worked with gold and semiprecious stones mined in the deserts east of the Nile River in a place they called Nubia—present-day Sudan. Nub was the ancient Egyptian word for gold.
Ancient Egyptians made many objects using faience—a non-clay ceramic material made from crushed quartz and sand. Although many faience objects were reproduced in large quantities, sometimes extremely high quality pieces (such as this one) were made.

Figure of Pataikos, ca. 664-30 B.C.E.
In this amulet, the dwarf god Pataikos strangles snakes while standing on two crocodiles. A scarab rests on his head. Pataikos is flanked by Isis and Nephthys—the wife and sister of Osiris. This amulet would have been worn on a cord around the neck to protect the deceased from snakes and crocodiles in the afterlife. The name Pataikos refers to a protective god (or perhaps a whole group of related gods) in the form of a dwarf. Representations of Pataikos appear on amulets worn around the neck. The god is usually depicted with a bald head on which a scarab can be seen. Sometimes he has a falcon's head. He is often standing on crocodiles and holding other dangerous animals such as snakes in his hands. As far as attributes and function are concerned, he may be compared to the god Horus as depicted on magical stelae from the Late Period. Pataikos appears frequently from the New Kingdom on, but similar figures from the Old Kingdom may perhaps already be depictions of the god. The name Pataikos was introduced by the Greek writer Herodotus. He relates that in the temple of Memphis there was a statue of the god Ptah in the form of a dwarf, an image so remarkable that it provoked the mockery of the Persian king Cambyses. Herodotus compared the statue with a protective statuette in the shape of a dwarf that he knew from Phoenicia. He also records that Pataikos was regarded as the son of Ptah. We do indeed have representations of Pataikos from the Late Period whose texts identify him as Ptah or Ptah-Sokar. We also find Pataikos depicted together with Sakhmet or Nefertem, two gods who formed the triad of Memphis along with Ptah.

Shabties were magical figures that people took with them in their tombs that would do work when they arrived in the next world. Shabties were made from stone, wood, faience, and (rarely) metal, depending on the tomb owner’s priorities. Amunemhet had a small number of very fine shabties, including the painted stone example shown here and a wooden example seen nearby.

Outer Sarcophagus of the Royal Prince, Count of Thebes, Pa-seba-khai-en-ipet, ca. 1075-945 B.C.E.
Ancient Egyptian elites eventually stopped building elaborate tombs and instead painted their coffins with scenes normally reserved for tomb walls. This outer coffin for the Royal Prince shows multiple scenes of the gods worshiped by the deceased. The coffin presents the deceased as Osiris and illustrates the many gods he will encounter in the afterlife. This coffin has been damaged but left unrepaired in order to show how it was made. Beneath the damaged paint, small pieces of wood were pinned together with wooden pegs. Artists then plastered and painted the surface to make it appear smooth.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Docent Note: A Very Very Brief Egyptian Timeline, To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum

by Kathleen Durham

Egypt is a gift of the Nile.”
 – Herodotus, 450 BCE

Egypt is a desert country with only a tiny percentage of habitable land. The Nile River, beginning in the highlands of Central Africa, flows north for over 4,000 miles to the Mediterranean Sea. Its yearly flooding determined the patterns of the lives of the ancient Egyptians. The floodwaters receded between November and March, leaving rich silt ideal for planting. Around 7,000 years ago settlements rose up along the banks of the Nile. Eventually canals and terraces were built to use the water more effectively. The ancient Egyptians felt that the river was a gift of the gods, but since they made no distinction between river and god, they used the word Hapy (Hapi) to mean the river, the flood and the God of the Nile. They grew crops, especially wheat and barley, and raised livestock. Eventually Egypt divided into two parts. The South was known as Upper Egypt, and the Northern Delta of the Nile, where it meets the Mediterranean Sea, was called Lower Egypt. In what is now known as the Early Dynastic Period (3000-2675 BCE) the first Pharaoh, Narmer, (or Menes) unified Upper and Lower Egypt.

EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD (3000-2675 BCE) Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. First Pharaoh Narmer. Brick tombs. Capital Memphis.

OLD KINGDOM (2675-2170 BCE) Pyramid Age, Giza, Sphinx, Saqqara, Cheops. Toward end of period Nile failed to flood for several years. Just one of the factors leading to dissolution of central government.

FIRST INTERMEDIATE PERIOD (2170-2008 BCE) Central government dissolved. Last days of royal house in Memphis, rivals in Herakleopolis and Thebes.

MIDDLE KINGDOM (2008-1630 BCE) Central government renewed in 11th Dynasty, Mentuhotep II, capital Thebes.

SECOND INTERMEDIATE PERIOD (1650-1550 BCE) Foreigners (Hyksos) dominant in Lower Egypt (Delta), local princes in Thebes.

NEW KINGDOM (1550-1075 BCE) Egypt expands into Syria, Euphrates. Amun is national god. Temples at Luxor, Karnak, rock tombs in Valley of the Kings. Under Amenhotep II and III kingdom and culture at its peak. Amenhotep IV changed religion to worship god Aten, changed own name to Akhenaten, built capital at Tel-el Amarna, married to Nefertiti. On Akhenaten’s death, Tutankhamun restored old gods. In 19th and 20th Dynasties there were 11 Pharaohs named Ramesses. Ramesses II built great temples Abu Simbel, Karnak.

THIRD INTERMEDIATE PERIOD (1075-656 BCE) Foreign rulers from Libya, Nubia.

LATE PERIOD (664-332 BCE) Foreign rule by Persians, Libyans, Ethiopians, alternated with Egyptian rule.

PTOLEMAIC PERIOD (332-30 BCE) Alexander the Greek conquers Egypt, establishes great center of learning at Alexandria. On his death his general, Ptolemy, takes over. Dynasty continues until Cleopatra’s death in 30 BCE.

ROMAN PERIOD (30 BCE-395 CE) Egypt is a Roman Province


ARABIC_MUSLIM (642- to present) Byzantines expelled, Egypt was a province of caliphate

Docent Note: A Glossary of Terms, To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum

by Kathleen Durham

AMDUAT A New Kingdom funerary text which names the friends and allies to be found in each of the twelve hours of the night. It translates as “That which is in the Underworld”, and serves as a guide for the soul.

AMULET A small sculptured object which can be worn as a charm, but more importantly, is bound into the wrappings of a mummy. The ankh, wadjet-eye, tyt, Bes, scarab are some of the amulets which are placed on the mummy to heal and protect.

ANTHROPOID COFFIN A coffin shaped like a human being with an idealized portrait of the deceased with wig or headdress. Often richly decorated with scenes of the afterlife and the gods. The coffin would be placed in one or more protective sarcophagi.

BALDACHIN A canopy placed over a sacred or honorific place, such as a throne or altar

BOOK OF THE DEAD Compilations of various spells, prayers and incantations to help the soul of the deceased navigate past dangers in the netherworld. Originally they were chiseled onto walls of royal tombs, but eventually they were made available to well-off people in the form of papyri. These scrolls were often rolled up and placed between the legs of the mummy.

CALCITE A crystalline form of limestone used in sculpture.

CANOPIC JARS Four jars, often of calcite, used to store internal organs removed from the deceased in the mummification process. The jar with a jackal head stopper stored the stomach, a baboon stored the lungs, a falcon the intestines, and a human the liver. They were often called the Four Sons of Horus.

CARTONNAGE Linen soaked in plaster, modeled and painted to create mummy masks.

CHERT A compact rock consisting of a microcrystalline quartz.

CROOK AND FLAIL Osiris and the Pharaohs are generally shown with a shepherd’s crook to show that he is shepherd of his people, and a flail, a hinged tool used for harvesting grains, to signify Pharaoh’s role as provider for his people.

DESCRIPTION DE L’EGYPTE A 20-volume work developed by a corps of artists, technicians, geographers and architects brought by Napoleon in 1798. Still used today as reference and especially for those monuments and artifacts which have been destroyed.

DJED COLUMN A column with a wide base and four horizontal bands at the top. It is said to represent the backbone of Osiris. It stands for stability and strength. Often painted on the inside of coffins where body would lie. As an amulet it is placed on the throat of the deceased. Also associated with the creator god Ptah, ‘the Noble Djed’.

DUAT The Egyptian Land of the Dead. Regarded as similar to Egypt in climate and nature. Duat is located under the earth. At night the Duat is illuminated by the Sun God Re as he travels through.

ENCAUSTIC A painting technique using pigments mixed with hot wax as a medium. Popular in Egypt, Greece and Rome. (See mummy Demetrios)

ENNEAD A Greek word for a group of nine gods—Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Nephthys, Isis, Seth.

FAIENCE A glazed ceramic technique that produces a smooth, lustrous, impenetrable texture. A fairly inexpensive way to produce quantities of beads or shabtys.

FALSE DOOR A stone imitation of a real door which only the deceased could use. They alone could ‘walk through’ the false door to receive the offerings left for them. As time went on, it was possible that priests and family could forget to leave offerings. For this reason the doors were often carved with depictions of food offerings.

FUNERAL PROCESS A series of rituals including, processions, incantations, dances, animal sacrifice. The process begins with the delivery of the corpse to the Hall of Embalming and ends with the final ceremony in the tomb. The body was carried on a boat in a canal or on land on a sledge, accompanied by professional mourners and priests. The coffin was shaded with a baldachin. After the seventy day mummification process, the funeral procession visited ritual stations on the way to the tomb. At the tomb the ritual Opening of the Mouth was performed (see Peseh-Kef below), the canopic jars and furniture were brought in, the tomb was sealed and offerings were left for the deceased.

HEART The heart was the only major organ which was left in the body during the mummification process. The brain was taken out and thrown away, and the major organs were stored in canopic jars. It was believed that the heart had knowledge and emotion. In the afterlife the heart was weighed against a feather to determine the fate of the deceased. Inscriptions were written on scarab amulets placed on the body, asking that the heart not testify against the deceased!

KOHL Finely ground antimony sulfate, a black powder used as eyeliner for men and women. Some say it was to avoid glare of the sun or to ward off infection.

MASTABA A flat-topped one-story structure with sloping sides over an underground tomb.

NATRON A natural salt that occurs in a dried lake bed in the delta, today called Wadi Natrun. Primarily sodium chloride, but about 17% sodium bicarbonate. It absorbs the body fluids in the mummification process, resulting after around 40 days in a stable shell no longer affected by decay.

OFFERING TABLE Food and drink and other offerings were placed on tables or stands for the deceased by priests and/or family. Even a sacred mummified bull would have an offering table!

PARTS OF THE BODY A living body is known as a khat, a dead body is a sah. The parts of the person aside from the body itself are: the ka: a spirit double, born when the person is formed on the potter’s wheel. The ba, was in the form of a human-headed bird which could travel in and out of the tomb and could consume offerings. The person’s shadow and his name combined with the ba and the ka to make a perfect spirit, known as the akh, for the life in the next world.

PESEH-KEF A ritual implement used in a crucial step of the funerary process, the Opening of the Mouth. When the coffin arrives at the tomb, it is held upright while an officiating priest, usually in an Anubis jackal mask, touches the tool to the mouth and other parts of the body to ‘reanimate’ it in the afterlife.

PHARAOH In New Kingdom Thutmose III was first to refer to himself as ‘Pharaoh’, a term that means ‘great house’.

PYRAMIDION A pyramid-shaped block set as the finishing element on an obelisk or a column, or as an independent tomb sculpture.

SARCOPHAGUS The outer rectangular or oval stone container in which a coffin and mummy were placed. Less expensive sarcophagi could be of wood, terra cotta or wicker.

SCARAB Named for a beetle which pushes around a ball of dung containing its eggs. When the eggs hatched, the Egyptians thought it was spontaneous generation, and likened it to the appearance of the sun at sunrise. Also known as Khapri (Khepri).

SENET A very popular board game with thirty squares and pawns in various shapes. The rules are unknown, but it is believed that the goal was to reach the end of the board and the Kingdom of Osiris.

SHABTY (also Ushabty) A mummiform statuette placed in tombs to perform work on behalf of deceased in the afterlife. Often there were thousands in a wealthy tomb. An ideal was to have 365 shabtiess, plus 36 more to serve as overseers. A less wealthy person could have 40 shabties, 30 to do the work and 10 to supervise.

SISTRUM An ancient Egyptian percussion instrument with a loop of metal set in a handle, fitted with loose crossbars which make noise when shaken.

STEATITE Soapstone, a form of compressed talc. Often used as a base for faience.

STELA A stone slab placed vertically, a monument. Generally incised with inscriptions and reliefs. Used originally in First Dynasty, to individualize a tomb with the name of the deceased.

TEKENU A bundle carried on a funerary sledge or barque, resembling a wrapped body. Sometimes it is covered with an animal skin, sometimes wrapped in linen and bound with red cord. It may represent a fetus being reborn in next world.

TERRA COTTA A medium made from clay fired over low heat and sometimes left unglazed.

TYT Often translated as welfare, eternal life, resurrection. Associated most with Isis. It resembles a knot used to secure garments of the gods. As early as Third Dynasty it appears with ankh and djed column. Also known as Blood of Isis, used as a funerary amulet of red stone or glass.

WADJET EYE In the shape of a human eye with falcon markings. It represents the eye of the god Horus which was torn out by the god Seth and was restored by Thoth (or Isis). It is used in amulets to represent healing. In the mummification process it is placed in the mummy wrappings over the site of the incision, to heal it. It is often painted on coffins as a protection, but also so the deceased can see out.

Docent Note: A Partial List of Egyptian Gods, To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum

By Kathleen Durham

Note: Listed here are only gods who are mentioned in the exhibition catalog. There were hundreds of gods in ancient Egypt, some local, some universal. There were various creation myths, and sometimes gods changed forms and/or merged with other gods. But there was a remarkable consistency over all those centuries, so that we see the same gods depicted in funerary art from the beginning through to Roman times. Since many of the gods developed from animals, many are shown as animals, or with animal heads. Anubis, the jackal-headed god of funerary matters, is thought to have taken that form because jackals were always seen around burial sites. The hippo is seen as a benign female god as Taweret, and as a god of Chaos in the person of Seth.

AMMIT – Devourer of hearts judged to be wicked in underworld—can take form of crocodile, hippo and/or leopard.
AMUN -- The hidden God, at one point considered King of Gods—sometimes merges with Re, becomes very powerful. Represents air. Temple at Thebes.
ANUBIS -- Jackal-headed god of mummification, and of judgment in underworld. Said to have helped Isis reassemble and bind together the parts of Osiris’ body.
APOPHIS -- Terrible creature who menaces Re on his trip through the underworld. Can take form of dragon, snake, cat.
ATEN -- During reign of Akhtenaten he was made King of Gods, the only god. Generally represented by a sun disc with rays ending in hands. When Tutankhamen became King, he restored the old gods.
ATUM -- Primeval creator god. Arose from the waters of Chaos and created the first gods, Shu and Tefnut. Merges with Re at sunset, representing the setting sun. Known then as ‘He who is Completed’.
BES -- Dwarf god, one of several variations, perhaps associated with Pataikos. Sometimes has lion’s ear and tail. Is always ugly, in order to frighten spirits which threaten homes. Protector of households, childbirth. Very popular amulet.
GEB -- Earth God, always pictured lying down, as the Earth, with his sister-wife Nut arched over him as the sky. Egyptians believed earthquakes were his laughter.
HAPY (HAPI) -- God of Nile. He is the river, the flood and the god. Represented as a man with a little pot belly and plants on his head.
HATHOR -- Goddess of love, fertility, joy, music. Shown as a cow, or woman with cow’s ears and horns, with a sun disk. Known as ‘Mistress of the West’, welcoming the dead into the next life.
HORUS -- Falcon-headed god of the sky and sun. Son of Isis and Osiris. Horus means ‘He who is from above’. Became king after defeating uncle Seth. Throughout Egyptian history is the protector of kings. It was thought that each Pharaoh was the living Horus.
ISIS -- Wife of Osiris, mother of Horus. Goddess of healing, magic, marriage, motherhood. Her crown is usually a throne to show she was mother to a king. Often shown with Horus on her lap (because her lap is the first throne he sat on). She is sometimes shown with wings.
KEBEHSENEUF -- Funerary god, associated with falcons and canopic jars. His is used for storing intestines. A son of Horus.
KHAPRI (KHEPRI) -- Scarab beetle, or man with beetle head, rising sun. This is the name Re takes when he re-appears from the underworld at sunrise. It means ‘he who is coming into being. Connected with scarab because that beetle pushed around a ball of dung filled with its eggs, like sun coming up.
KHNUM -- Ram or ram-headed man. One of the creator gods. He molded people on a pottery wheel.
MAAT -- Goddess of truth and justice. She is present at judging of souls in the underworld. Single feather headdress. Heart is weighed with her feather.
MONT (MONTU) -- God of war, valor. Falcon head, sun disk and double plumes. Associated with cult of Buchis (bull which was venerated, mummified).
NEFERTEM -- God in form of a man with lotus headdress. He is personification of lotus which keeps sun god Re alive with its fragrance.
NEITH -- Goddess of hunting and war. Shown as a woman with red crown.
NEPHTHYS -- Daughter of Geb and Nut, sister of Osiris and Isis, sister-wife to Seth. Headdress has her name in hieroglyphics. Sometimes shown with wings.
NUT -- Goddess of Sky, mother of Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. Shown as a naked woman arched over the reclining body of her brother-husband Geb (Earth).
OSIRIS -- King of Netherworld, God of Re-birth. Son of Geb and Nut, husband-brother to Isis. Father of Horus. Was king of Egypt until killed by brother Seth. After his body was put back together by Isis he became king of the netherworld. Shown as a mummy with green face, atef crown (a combination of the hedjet, the white crown of Upper Egypt, with ostrich plumes). Carries crook, flail.
PATAIKOS -- A dwarf protector of household, similar to Bes. Has scarab on head, he strangles snakes, stands on crocodiles. Often seen with Isis and Nephthys.
PTAH -- Creator god, Memphis. Father of Pataikos.
RE (RA) -- Sun god. Creator god. Hawk head with sun disk. Has seventy-five names. Binds together the darkness and light with his 24 hour journey through the sky and the underworld. Merges at times with Atum, Amun and Horus.
SETH -- God of Chaos. Son of Geb and Nut. Brother of Osiris and Isis, brother-husband to Nephthys. Sometimes shown as a hippo, but more often as a ‘Seth animal’, an undetermined animal with a long snout. Was King, defeated by Horus, now defends Re in the underworld.
SHU -- God of Air, father of Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and Seth.
SOBEK -- Crocodile or Crocodile-headed man. River god.
TAWERET -- Hippo goddess. Patron of household and childbirth.
TEFNUT -- Goddess of Moisture, mother of Geb and Nut. Cobra or lion head.
THOTH -- Ibis-headed (sometimes baboon), holding a writing palette. Scribe of Gods. Recorder of judgment in netherworld, also connected to the Moon. Egyptians thought that he gave them the gift of hieroglyphic writing. He restored Horus’ eye after Seth tore it out.

To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum Introduction and Text Panels

Two of the main ancient Egyptian cultural beliefs that have endured for thousands of years are a belief in the afterlife, and the view that death was an enemy that could be vanquished. To Live Forever features objects that illustrate a range of strategies the ancient Egyptians developed to defeat death, including mummification and various rituals performed in the tomb. The exhibition contains funeral equipment used by the rich, the middle class, and the poor, and also reveals what the Egyptians believed they would find in the next world. The economics of the funeral are examined, including how the poor tried to imitate the costly appearance of the grave goods of the rich in order to ensure a better place in the afterlife.

Specially-designed interpretation for this exhibition acknowledges the recent political revolution in Egypt and includes speculative conjecture from best-selling science fiction author Bruce Sterling, accompanied by an 80-foot panoramic mural depicting a possible future Egypt. In much the same way that the antiquities on display offer only traces of historical evidence helping us to understand Egypt’s past, Sterling’s contribution and the accompanying mural illustrates one of many possible outcomes for the future of this dynamic and rapidly-changing country.

The exhibition fills the third floor feature gallery, and is organized broadly around the themes of Beliefs about the Afterlife: Osiris and Re; Preparing a Mummy; Furnishing a Tomb on a Budget; and The Funeral Ceremony (see associated text panels below).

Text Panels: Main Text
This exhibition explores ancient Egyptian beliefs about life, death, and the afterlife. Featuring mummies, statuary, sarcophagi, coffins, gold jewelry, and elegantly-crafted vessels, it includes fine examples of Egyptian artistic and cultural heritage. Taken together, the objects and artifacts illustrate funerary beliefs and customs practiced by ancient Egyptians—from various social classes—for nearly four thousand years.

Regardless of socioeconomic class, ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. Many practical considerations had to be accounted for when preparing a body for burial and the afterlife. What if one did not have access to elaborate materials or valuable gold? What if only simple stone or inexpensive wood were available? This exhibition sheds light on the disparity between ancient Egyptian social classes and reveals how different groups of people employed creative methods to defeat death and, ultimately, to live forever.

Specially designed interpretation for this exhibition acknowledges the recent sociopolitical revolution in Egypt and the surrounding desert region. It includes speculative commentary from best-selling science fiction author and futurist Bruce Sterling, accompanied by an 80-foot panoramic mural sketching how an Egypt of tomorrow might look. In the same way that the antiquities on display offer only traces of historical evidence that help us to understand and imagine Egypt’s distant past, Sterling’s contribution and the accompanying mural suggest that there are many possibilities for the future of this dynamic and rapidly-changing culture and region.

Beliefs about the Afterlife: Osiris and Re
Ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife are based on the story of Osiris, who along with his wife Isis, were Egypt’s first beloved rulers. Legend holds that Osiris had a jealous brother named Seth, who trapped his brother Osiris in a coffin designed precisely to the dimensions of his body. Seth and his accomplices threw the box into the Nile River and drowned Osiris, leaving Seth to claim the throne. Isis retrieved her husband’s body, however, and magically revived him—just long enough to conceive a child named Horus. Isis built temples for Osiris where she placed offerings that he could retrieve in the afterlife—establishing the precursor of the tomb. Osiris became king of the afterlife, while Isis raised their son Horus, who eventually defeated his uncle Seth and became king of Egypt. The tale of Osiris and Isis became a touchstone for all ancient Egyptians, who wanted to vanquish death by achieving rebirth in the afterlife—just like Osiris.
The sun god Re was one of the most important gods in the ancient Egyptian belief system. In the daytime world of the living, ancient Egyptians believed that Re traveled in a boat through the sky—from east to west at sunset. Re entered the afterlife upon reaching the western sky, and then traveled eastward through the underworld at night. While Re traveled through the underworld he was continually attacked by the dragon-like demon Apophis. Only during the fifth hour of his journey through the underworld was Re safe in the realm of Osiris. After twelve hours in the underworld, Re was reborn on the eastern horizon of the mortal world. Many of the decorations found in royal tombs and depicted on papyrus reveal that ancient Egyptians hoped to travel with Re in his boat after their own mortal passing.

Preparing a Mummy
To ensure eternal life, ancient Egyptians believed that the body had to be preserved. Three different mummification processes were available depending on the budget of the deceased person. These methods were described by the Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt in the fifth century B.C.E.

The most expensive preservation option involved surgical removal of the brain and internal organs. The deceased was then embalmed using natron, a naturally occurring salt that dehydrated the body in about seventy days. Priests then poured an expensive combination of imported and domestic resins into the body, which ensured that it would remain waterproof and resistant to damage from microorganisms and insects. The body was then wrapped in linen and placed in a coffin in preparation for the funeral service.

A less expensive method for mummification utilized an injection of cedar resin into the body that liquefied the internal organs, which were then drained from the corpse. The body was embalmed with natron and wrapped in linen. Finally, the least costly method for preparing a body involved basic cleansing of the internal organs by the embalmers. The organs were left inside the body. Herodotus gives no further details regarding this least-expensive method.

Furnishing a Tomb on a Budget
Furnishing a tomb was the biggest expense an ancient Egyptian would incur during his or her lifetime. A coffin alone might cost an entire year’s salary. For individuals of a certain socioeconomic status tombs were sometimes built as small, freestanding buildings or excavated into the side of a mountain. If only limited funds were available, graves were dug into the desert sand. Depending on one’s socioeconomic status, there were four strategies for furnishing a tomb on a budget: they could substitute, imitate, combine, or reuse materials.

In many instances, individuals with limited resources substituted inexpensive materials for precious ones typically used by wealthier classes. In place of gold or rare stones, they might use faience, a non-clay ceramic material made from sand. Alternatively, terracotta might take the place of stone. Sometimes colored paints were used to emulate expensive decorations found on more elaborate objects. For instance, a terracotta jar might be painted to imitate a more costly granite vessel, or a terracotta mummy mask could be painted yellow to imitate gold.

A traditional coffin set usually consisted of a lid and a mummy board that could be quite expensive. The board, situated inside the coffin, was a life-sized figure of the deceased dressed in everyday clothing placed atop the actual mummy. It was easy enough, however, to combine the traditional mummy board decoration with the lid to save money. Another cost-saving approach was introduced toward the end of the New Kingdom in 1070 B.C.E., when the government began allowing tomb objects to be recycled. Reusing objects involved removing the name of the previous owner and inscribing the object for a new user. Coffins, statues, and shabties (funeral figurines) could all be reused.

The Funeral Ceremony
While much is known about the funeral ceremonies of wealthy ancient Egyptians, scholars depend on physical evidence and objects found in graves to reconstruct the rituals of most citizens. What scholars do know is that it ancient Egyptians—regardless of their class status—desired to make the journey to the afterlife and to live there for eternity.

The ancient Egyptian funeral consisted of a series of rituals based on the tale of Osiris, the legendary king who died and was then reborn into the afterlife. Typical funeral customs included dance, music, animal sacrifice, recitation, and ritualized mourning along a route that led from the embalming house to the tomb. Tombs helped the deceased person to achieve rebirth in the afterlife. In addition to the mummified remains of the dead, tombs contained objects that were intended to be used in the next life. Men were often buried with weapons, while women were accompanied by mirrors, cosmetic containers, and grooming accessories. Coffins, statues, shabties (funeral figurines), and vessels for food and drink were also placed in the tomb for use in the next world.

During the funeral service, living persons would make offerings of food, clothing, or other necessities to be consumed or used in the afterlife. Such offerings were sometimes depicted in images on the walls of tombs. The final funeral ritual performed at the tomb was the “opening of the mouth.” This procedure symbolically activated the mummy, allowing it to see, hear, and enjoy the offerings made by the priests during the funeral ritual before it was finally positioned in the tomb.