• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1734

    Antiquities

    7 December 2006, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 26

    AN EGYPTIAN PAINTED SYCAMORE FIG WOOD SARCOPHAGUS AND MUMMY FOR NESKHONS

    THIRD INTERMEDIATE PERIOD, DYNASTY XXI, CIRCA 990-940 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate On Request

    AN EGYPTIAN PAINTED SYCAMORE FIG WOOD SARCOPHAGUS AND MUMMY FOR NESKHONS
    THIRD INTERMEDIATE PERIOD, DYNASTY XXI, CIRCA 990-940 B.C.
    The coffin comprising a lid and trough, both brightly painted with an abundance of texts and iconographic representations, the lid anthropoid, showing the deceased in the form of a mummy, wearing a striped divine wig crowned with a fillet and a plaited divine beard with chin straps, the arms crossed and covered by an immense floral collar, exposing only the hands, clenching emblematic staves, with red bands crossing the chest, imitating the straps of dyed leather, the principal scenes (excluding the many small amuletic and mythological figures) as follows, between the hands, a vignette featuring symmetrical cobra-goddesses, below the collar a winged solar-disk above a scarab wearing a triple Atef-crown, flanked by symmetrical scenes, to the left the vulture-goddess Nekhbet standing behind a seated god labeled "Giver of life, stability Re," a similar goddess to the right behind a seated god labeled "Giver of life, stability and dominion like Re," symmetrical winged cobra-goddesses below both labeled "Wadjyt," the sky-goddess Nut below with wings spread above a central HH-god holding palm-fronds, signifying "millions of years," captioned to the left, "Stability and dominion like Re," and to the right "Life, stability and dominion like Re(?)," flanked on either side by a standing goddess behind a seated god, labeled, to the left, "Great God,... (?) of Heaven," "Nekhbet," and to the right "Great God, Lord of Heaven," "Nekhbet," a solar disk below with spread wings above symmetrical Htp-di-nsw formulae in vertical bands extending to the foot, reading, left, "A Royal Offering Formula to Re-Harakhty-Atum, Lord of the Two Lands, the Southern-Heliopolitan; Ptah-Tatjenen who is South of His Wall, Lord of Ankhtawy; Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth; that they may give offerings of provisions, everything good and pure, everything sweet and pleasant," and right, "A Royal Offering Formula to Re-Harakhty-Atum, Lord of the Two Lands, the Southern-Heliopolitan; Ptah-Sokar-Osiris the Lord of Mysteries; Anubis Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, First Lector Priest [in the Place of Truth]..., Great God...," with central panels in between, one with symmetrical seated gods, one with symmetrical falcon gods flanking a scarab with a solar disk, and one with wadjet-eyes, another offering formula down the center of the foot, reading, "A Royal Offering Formula to Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West, Great God, Lord of Heaven, who comes forth/ascends from the horizon," a vertical column of text along the right side of the lid reading like a Htp-di-nsw but without the initial formula, "Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West, Great God, Lord of Heaven, who comes forth/ascends from the two horizons (sic), who appears gloriously in the Atef-crowns; Isis the Great, Mother of the God, Eye of Re, Mistress of All the Gods, that they may give (or, May they give) offerings of provisions and all beautiful and pure things, all sweet and pleasant things that come forth in the presence of the Stolist of the Mystery of Things/Offerings (?) of Osiris, the God's-Servant of Amun, Neskhons, justified, child of (?)..., " a corresponding band down the left side, "Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West, Great God, Lord of Heaven, who comes forth/ascends from the horizon, who appears gloriously in Atef-crowns; Isis the Great, Mother of the God, Eye of Re, Mistress of All the Gods; that they may give offerings of provisions and all beautiful, pure things, all things of wine and oil, for the Osiris, the Lady of the House, justified(?), and the Osiris, the God's-Servant of Amun, Neskhons, son of s...;" both upper sides with a large winged goddess and a large falcon with spread wings, the right side with a standing mummiform god labeled "Great God," a Ba-bird labeled, ". . . (?), Lord of the House;" a mummiform jackal-headed figure labeled ipt, a human-headed mummiform figure behind labeled, "Great God . . .(?);" a seated mummiform god: dwA-nTr (a designation of Osiris), and a heron or fishing bird, ". . .(?) God;" the left side with a standing mummiform figure, the hieroglyphs now imcomplete, a Ba-bird labeled ". . . (?) of the House;" a mummiform jackal god, the hieroglyphs now incomplete, a mummiform figure behind him with a feather instead of a head, labeled "Great God, Lord of (?);" a seated mummiform god, labeled "Great God . . . (?) Lord of Heaven; Ruler of . . ;(?)" a crowned falcon, labeled "God" "Great God. . .;" a vertical column of text along the right side of the lid reading like a Htp-di-nsw but without the initial formula: "Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West, Great God, Lord of Heaven, who comes forth/ascends from the two horizons (sic), who appears gloriously in the Atef-crowns; Isis the Great, Mother of the God, Eye of Re, Mistress of All the Gods, that they may give (or, May they give) offerings of provisions and all beautiful and pure things, all sweet and pleasant things that come forth in the presence of the Stolist of the Mystery of Things/Offerings (?) of Osiris, the God's-Servant of Amun, Neskhons, justified, child of (?);" a corresponding vertical band down the left side of the lid reading "Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West, Great God, Lord of Heaven, who comes forth/ascends from the horizon, who appears gloriously in Atef-crowns; Isis the Great, Mother of the God, Eye of Re, Mistress of All the Gods; that they may give offerings of provisions and all beautiful, pure things, all things of wine and oil, for the Osiris, the Lady of the House, justified(?), and the Osiris, the God's-Servant of Amun, Neskhons, son of s:"

    The exterior of the trough with, at the very top, a solar-disk and tit or "Isis-knot" flanked by two "West" signs, a horizontal band on the left side of base, "A Royal Offering Formula to Re-Har[akhty]-Atum, Lord of the Two Lands, the Heliopolitan; Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West, the Great God, Lord of Abydos, Wenen-nefer, Ruler of Everlasting; Isis the Great, Mother of the God, Eye of Re, Mistress of All the gods; Ret, Ruler of the Provinces; Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, First Lector Priest of Osiris, the Great God, Lord of Heaven; that they may give invocation-offerings (consisting of) thousands of provisions, thousands of offering-loaves, thousands of incense, thousands of garments and alabaster vessels, thousands of beautiful, pure offerings of provisions, thousands of beautiful, sweet things and herbs/vegetables, wine...," a corresponding band on the right side reading "A Royal Offering Formula to Re-Harakhty-Atum, Lord of the Two Lands, the Heliopolitan; Osiris, Lord of Eternity, the West, the Great God, Lord of Abydos, Wenen-nefer, Ruler of Life, King of Everlasting; Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, First Lector Priest of the Place of ; Osiris, the Great God, Lord of Heaven, who comes forth/ascends from the two horizons (sic), who appears gloriously the [Atef-crown], who illuminates the Two Lands by means of bright/dazzling glance(?); Isis the Great, Mother of the God, Eye of Re, Mistress of All the Gods; Ret, (female) Ruler of the White Crown; that they may give invocation offerings (consisting of) thousands of cattle, thousands of fowl, thousands of incense, thousands of garments and alabaster vessels, thousands of offerings of provisions, and all beautiful/pure things, thousands of all sweet, pleasant things...," the lower register with many columns of text bearing imAxy "Venerated" or "Revered" formulae and offering scenes involving a deity, an offering table, and a mummy or figure in the "costume of the living," with accompanying text, including, on the left side, "Venerated before Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West," and "Venerated by Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, First Lector Priest," in the scene a crowned jackal deity facing a mummiform figure, an offering table in between, offering texts in between; a scene featuring a man in the costume of the living venerating a seated god, offering texts in between; a scene featuring a seated sun-god with disk bearing a uraeus and Eye of Horus, an offering table, and a mummiform figure, offering texts in between; an offering scene with a seated, bearded god identified as "Osiris, Lord of the West, Lord of Everlasting, Lord of Forms/That Which Comes into Being" and a standing man in priestly costume labeled "Neskhons, justified, Venerated before Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of [the West], Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the House of Burial, Great God, Lord of Heaven, who comes forth/ascends from the horizon, who appears gloriously in the Atef-crown, who illuminates the Two Lands with dazzling glance(?); that they may give offerings of provisions; the Great God, Lord of Eternity...," "Venerated before Osiris, Lord of Eternity, Foremost of the West, the Great God, Lord of Abydos, Wenen-, Lord of Life, that they may give invocation offerings the Osiris, the wab-priest of Amun, Djedkhonseankh, justified, son of the wab-priest of Amun, Efkhons, justified, son of the wab-priest of Amun, Khonsmose, justified, righteous one of the body of Osiris...(?);" an offering scene featuring a mummiform god with offering tables, a man in the costume of the living before him, texts in between; a scene featuring a man in the costume of the living venerating a seated mummiform god, texts in between; an offering scene with a seated human-headed god with a scarab on its head (Khepri), and a mummiform figure on the other side of an offering table also with a scarab on its head; and on the right side, an offering scene featuring a standing mummiform jackal-headed figure, an offering table, and a seated human-headed god with the West sign on his head, texts in between; an offering scene featuring a seated mummiform deity with a disk, uraeus and Eye of Horus, and a praying man in the costume of the living, texts in between; an offering scece featuring a seated god similar to the last and a man in the costume of the living, texts in between; an offering scene featuring a seated mummiform deity with plumes, disk and horns, and a standing mummy, texts in between; an offering scene featuring a seated mummiform jackal deity labeled Net, and two standing mummies, the one in back with a feather instead of a head, texts in between; an offering scene featuring a seated mummiform god with disk, uraeus, and Eye of Horus, and a standing mummy with xpr (transformed) on his head, texts in between; and a scene with an offering stand with reeds in front of the Hathor cow emerging from the mountain, texts in between;

    The interior of the trough with large iconographic elements and hieroglyphs, including, centered at the top, a human-headed Ba-bird, labeled on both sides, "Lord who comes forth/ascends from the horizon," with seated mummiform jackal deities below the wings, the figure on the right labeled Anubis, the figure on the left Ipt, the female Anubis, both shoulders with text reading "A Royal Offering Formula to Osiris, Lord of Eternity, the West," the sides with three registers of mummiform deities, including the Four Sons of Horus, the next register down on both left and right sides labeled "Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, who escorts/accompanies," the next register down on the left reading, "The Great God, Lord of Heaven, in the city," and on the right, "The Great God, Lord of Heaven, in the horizon of the Temple," the short segments starting with the Htp-di-nsw on each side make a consecutive reading "A Royal Offering Formula to Osiris, Lord of Eternity, the West, and Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, who escorts/accompanies the Great God, Lord of Heaven, in the city/in the horizon of the Temple," the upper end of the bottom panel with a sacred bark containing the sign Axt, "horizon," the next register with a cartouche, "Osiris, Lord of Eternity," between two seated gods each holding an ankh, the next register with Axt "horizon" in the center flanked by wadjet-eyes and shrines, the next and largest register with a falcon with outstretched wings, labeled iAt "sacred mound," a kneeling, praying figure above right labeled "Lord of the House of the Ruler, in order to praise(?)," flanking the striking figure of the deified Amenhotep I, depicted mummiform, wearing the Blue Crown, his cartouche before him, text behind reading "Protection, Life and Dominion," a kneeling male deity to the left with the "West" sign on his head, labeled "Ba," a couchant Anubis to the right labeled inpt (female Anubis, Anupet) in a scrambled quasi-cryptogram, the shrine upon which it sits labeled "Excellent Bas," a small sphinx to the left above a standing figure of Anubis with text in between, "Anubis, Lord of the Cemetery, Foremost in the God's Booth, First Lector Priest in the Place of Truth, Great God, Lord of Heaven, the Skilled One," with larger hieroglyphs before Anubis reading "Garments and alabaster vessels, it for Osiris," a table of offerings bottom right, the next register with a vulture goddesses crowned with the Red and White Crowns, above the heraldic papyrus and lotus plants, flanking an Amenhotep I cartouche surmounted by a solar-disk, a gold sign and archaic paneled/mat-covered facade below, the next register with two cobra goddesses both labeled "Wadjyt," over two stylized patterned facades, flanking a tit or "Isis-knot" surmounted by a disk;
    Together with the body, carefully preserved in natron and bitumen, and expertly wrapped in quality linen, the head and part of the chest unwrapped, exposing two wax winged falcon amulets and a faience heart scarab originally placed over the chest, the underside of the scarab reading "The Osiris, the Lady of the House, Chantress of Amen-Re King , Priestess (God's Servant) of Isis, Akhbitet; She says: (My) heart (of my) mother, (my) heart (of my) mother, (my) (my) forms, do not ;" and together with numerous X-rays of the body, one set framed
    74¾ in. (189.8 cm.) long


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    The ancient Egyptians had long built lavish tombs, beginning in the Old Kingdom (2575-2134 B.C.) and continuing into the New Kingdom (1550-1070 B.C.). The walls of these tombs were embellished with beautifully-painted or sculpted scenes. However, toward the end of the Ramesside period at the end of the New Kingdom, such tombs, royal and private, became the focus of relentless despoliation. This led, during the Third Intermediate Period, to the use of caches for burials. These caches were often located within temple enclosures. The focus of mortuary provisions shifted from the tomb walls to the coffins. The best examples from this period have brilliantly painted scenes, often with fine minute detail; they are the most extravagant sarcophagi ever produced in ancient Egypt. Dozens of Third Intermediate Period sarcophagi for priests of Amun are known, now mostly residing in museums around the world. The sarcophagus of Neskhons corresponds to Ikram and Dodson type YIIIb (The Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity) and Niwinksi type V (21st Dynasty Coffins from Thebes). For related sarcophagi of the this period see also van Walsen, "The Study of 21st Dynasty Coffins from Thebes," in Bibliotheca Orientalis 50. For the continued popularity of Dynasty XVIII pharaohs during the Third Intermediate Period, as depicted on the interior of the present sarcophagus, see J. Çern, "Le culte d'Amenophis Ier chez les ouvriers de la nécropole thébaine, Bulletin de l'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale 27 (1927), pp. 159-203.

    The texts on this sarcophagus inform that the deceased, Neskhons, served as a Stolist, one who performs a ritual for anointing, clothing and otherwise potentiating the cult-image of the god in his Temple. The texts also mention three generations of priests of Amun, Djed-Khons-Iwef-Ankh, son of Iwef-khonsu, son of Khonsmose, and a Chantress of Amun, Neskhonspakhered. The heart scarab found on the mummy is for Akhbitet, a priestess of Isis. There is no mention as to the relationship of these individuals to Neskhons, but they must have been his family.

    There is no record as to where Neskhon's coffin and mummy were buried. But, in the winter of 1900, Liberty E. Holden of Cleveland, Ohio, publisher of The Plains Dealer, voyaged to Egypt to experience the wonders of the ancient world. While on the obligatory trip up the Nile, he learned that the dealer Sheik Mahmud Hassan had discovered a cache of four mummies. Holden records that he observed the excavations, but it is not known whether this was a staged event for the benefit of the tourists or an actual discovery. In either case he made his purchase, and sent the still-sealed coffin to Cairo for export clearance by the Egyptian Museum officials. At the time the mummy was named Othphto, a fantasy name likely coined by the Luxor dealer. From Cairo it was shipped to Cleveland, where it was donated to the Western Reserve Historical Society. As was the fashion since the early 19th century, the coffin was ceremoniously opened and the mummy partially unwrapped in the Society's auditorium. A partial reading of the inscriptions lead to the mummy's identification as Djed-Khons-Iwef-Ankh, but it is now clear that Neshkons was the original owner of the sarcophagus.

    A recent examination by cephalometric X-ray determined that Neshkons was in his early 20's at the time of his death, based on the presence of arthritis in his bones. The lack of any obvious trauma suggests that he most probably died from an infection. During mummification, his internal organs were removed, separately embalmed and replaced inside the body in wrapped bundles together with amulets. A metal plate was placed over the incision through which the organs were removed.

    Special Notice

    No sales tax is due on the purchase price of this lot if it is picked up or delivered in the State of New York.


    Provenance

    with Sheik Mahmud Hassan, Luxor, 1900.
    Liberty E. Holden, Cleveland, Ohio.
    Donated to the Western Reserve Historical Society in 1901.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY


    Literature

    J.D. Cooney, "Cleveland's First Egyptian Mummy" in The Historical Society News, Vol. 23, 1969.


    Exhibited

    Cleveland, Ohio, Western Reserve Historical Society, 1901 to circa 1991.
    Knoxville, Tennessee, Frank H. McClung Museum, 1991-2006.