EGYPT, possibly Thebes
Base from the outer anthropoid coffin of Iret-[en]-Hor-eru
Third Intermediate Period – Late Period, Dynasty XXV -
early Dynasty XXVI,
wood, gesso, pigment
33.0 x 62.0 x 193.0 cm
Purchased, 1938 (D144-1982)
The wooden coffin base and the lid from an inner belonging to Iret-[en]-Hor-eru, together with a lid from the inner coffin of a woman name Tjeseb, and their mummies, are the first major Egyptian antiquities known to have been brought to Melbourne. They belonged to local businessman J.R. Gotch and were in Melbourne before 1893. In that year the mummy were unwrapped and been displayed in the Exhibition Building before transferred to the National Gallery of Victoria for display in 1939; the mummified remains are in Melbourne Museum.
The wooden coffin is covered with a layer of white gesso and painted. On the interior of the base is a figure of the composite deity Ptah-Sikar upon a standard, show a falcon-headed, wearing atef-crown, holding a was-sceptre and wrapped in red-coloured bandages, This god combines aspect creator god Ptah, worshiped in Memphis, near modern Cairo, and Sokar, god of resurrection, revered in the cemeteries of the same region. On the side of the head end there is a solar disc from which ray extend, flanked by rearing cobras (Uraie) with the hieroglyphic sign for life (Ankh). Inscription identify the disc as the god (Hor-) Behdet, Lord of Heaven.
The interior sides bear representation of the goddess Isis and Nephthys. A text in large glyphs written on the exterior ensures offerings for the owner Iret-[en]-Hor-eru, son of Djed-khonsu-iu-ef-ankh, from the gods Ra-Horakhty, Atum and Ptah-Sokar-Osiris.