Coffin panel of Djehuty-nakht


Coffin panel of Djehuty-nakht  [ edit ]

This register of ornamental hieroglyphs from the coffin of the Treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt, Djehuty-nakhte, exhibits the high level of craftsmanship available to the elite buried at the cemetery of Deir el-Bersha in Middle Egypt. The cemetery is famous for the burials of Middle Kingdom provincial governors, termed nomarchs, many of whom were named Djehuty-nakhte. Although definitely elite, as his title and his beautifully decorated imported Lebanese cedar coffin testify, this Djehuty-nakhte is not one of these Hare nome governors. Coffin decorations display regional differences and chronological development, and despite the lack of archaeological or prosopographical information, Djehuty-nakhte’s coffin can be dated to between the reigns of Sesostris I and Amenemhat II (ca. 1971-1895 BCE) based on the decorative scheme in comparison with other coffins from the same region.

Elite coffins from the First Intermediate Period to the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2125-1650 BCE) are elaborately decorated and incorporate a corpus of funerary spells that aid the deceased’s passage into the afterlife known as the Coffin Texts. Some coffins from Deir el-Bersha even have the first illustrated geographical representations of the underworld, known as the Book of Two Ways. While other pieces of Djehuty-nakhte’s coffin retain interior and exterior decoration, this section from the coffin foot panel has only one register of hieroglyphs in sunk relief, a standard identifying statement: “The vindicated one, royal sealbearer, Djehutynakht, possessor of vindication.” Decorated coffins are just some examples of the interplay between beautifully painted/carved hieroglyphs and images that is ubiquitous in ancient Egypt, with the picturesque writing system being a constant fascination for all foreigners from antiquity till today.


H.30.5cm, W. 96.5cm, D. 8.3




Yale Art Gallery

Accession Number


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G. Scott, Ancient Egypt at Yale, p.72 (no.37)

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  H. Willems, Chests of Life: A Study of the Typology and Conceptual Development of Middle Kingdom Standard Class Coffins, (Leiden: 1988), p. 80, 131-135.