Saturday, 24 January 2009

Mummfication Museum lecture - Look into their eyes

Look into their eyes – Earl Ertman

I do like Earl’s lectures; he gave one on “Smiting, keeping it in the family” which was thought provoking and well researched, this was the same. BTW I had a chat with members of the KV63 team and they are really enjoying this season. Lots of ‘interesting’ things found in the jars so keep an eye on their website for news. This website has an article from him discussing the same topic

During the lecture he referred to the coffins by their designations A-G (if you look at their website near the bottom of the home page you can a drawing of tomb which identifies the coffins). Photos were credited to Heather Alexander

When KV63 was found that was a lot of speculation about the contents and the date. Various things give us a clue.

The shaft of the tomb had a slight overhang which Otto Schaden believes to be the signature of the craftsman that created the shaft and this is present on tombs KV55 and KV46.

The tomb was found under 19th dynasty huts indicating it was before that time.

There were seals similar to those found at KV62 Tutankhamen and KV54 of the jackal and nine bound prisoners.

This lead to speculation that the tomb was from the period of Amenhotep III which seems plausible at the time. There was also speculation that the coffins were female because they were painted yellow. Artistic style in Egyptian wall art shows men as red and women as yellow. So a yellow coffin means female.

But this speculation was incorrect as there was no connection with Amenhotep III and there are many examples of yellow coffins with male owners. In the British Museum there is the shabti and coffin of Djuhuty (?) which is yellow. TT181 shows yellow coffins when the owner male. So we must be cautious saying all yellow coffins are female.

Of the 7 coffins 4 have yellow faces, coffins A, B, F G and the others are unpainted.

Coffin A has blue glass inlay around the eyes but not the eyebrows

Coffin B has painted eyes and Earl commented that if that was a portrayal of a female it was the ugliest he had ever seen with a very wide jaw.

These 2 coffins and coffin F & G have a feature called an epicanthic fold where the inner canthus--the corner of the eye near the nose--descends abruptly and abuts the upper lid, giving them an East Asian appearance.

Earl them demonstrated many other examples some more distinct than others. The assumption is that this a physical characteristic. The bust of Nefertiti, a dancer from the tomb of Kheruef at the sed festival of Amenhotep III when we know the kings daughters danced. Could this dancer be the daughter of a wife of foreign wife? In TT55 a servant has this slightly; this tomb shows both the left and right foot which is something that does not appear until the Amarna period. Prior to Akhenaton there are about a dozen examples. There is a statue of the king with Sobek where the right eye shows this more than the left. The ES expedition of 1931-32 found a trial piece with this characteristic. In the Berlin Museum there is another trial piece showing this slightly. In a stele in the same museum only Nefertiti is shown with this characteristic. This stele is identified as late Akhenaton by Aldred. Nefertiti and the girls are shown with it all times but Akhenaton only occasionally. Trial pieces from the workshop of Tutmosis. Plaster head of Akhenaton. Remains of a painting from the palace. It seems that Tutmosis the sculptor is the first to depict this and then he promotes it. Earl believes it is a physical characteristic of Nefertiti but could be just an artistic one on the others.

He then should some extremely interesting slides of real life examples.

Further pharaonic examples Nefertiti kissing her daughter, the Wilbur plaque Akhenaton is shown without it but Nefertiti with. In the royal tomb at Amarna Ay has a very slight one but Ti’s is more pronounced. Could it be like Akhenaton’s distended stomach which is copied by courtiers this eye characteristic is put on other people as a compliment to the royal? A royal artistic marker.

It carries on past the Amarna period during the reign of Tutankhamen Nakht Min(?) and his wife. The Beirut head attributed to Horemheb. In the tomb of Tutankhamen ushabities like the one donate by Nakht Min, the manikin and the wooden piece showing the king emerging from the lotus. As these are the few painted wood examples the KV63 coffins are compared to these.

Wall reliefs still continue to show this, both Tutankhamen and Ay are shown with this in Tutankhamen’s tomb. In Ay’s tomb both Nephthys and his Ka are shown with this. Even down to the Ramaside period Seti I, Ramses II, Nefertari, and Ramesses VI. Private tombs such as Ptah May and Tenmein (?)

There are no royal insignia on the KV63 coffins but restoration might reveal more information.

In the question and answer session Otto said they have found wine seals from KV63 with inscriptions very similar to Tutankhamen’s

KV63 Year 5 wine from Tjaru
KV62 Year 5 Tutankhamen wine from Tjaru

There are seal impressions showing the wine coming from both Aton and Amun Re which means that there were estates bearing these names in Tutankhamen


Geoff Carter said...

Great post, very interesting detail about the coffins.

I had thought that there were some texts on the coffins from KV63 that had been painted over, do you know if this was the case?

Jane Akshar said...

The coffins are covered with resin and removal of this might repeat might give us some names. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed on that one