After a major archeological discovery at the west bank of modern day Luxor in 1891, Egyptian authorities decided to donate a large amount of priestly mummy-coffins to the foreign powers present in Egypt at the time. Coffin C47714 at the University Museum of Cultural Heritage in Oslo was one of six such coffins, all originating from the same tomb, presented to King Oscar II of Sweden-Norway in 1894.
The wooden coffin, which is shaped in the image of a man with his arms across his chest, is densely decorated with religious icons and hieroglyphic inscriptions. Through a careful study of the coffin’s shape, materials, colors, and decorations, I have suggested an interpretation of what I call the coffin’s "religious function". I define "religious function" as the symbolic-mythological role the coffin took on in the ancient Egyptian funerary ritual.
Studies of older Egyptian coffins have shown that the coffin played a significant part in the funerary ritual and took on several roles from the myths, some of which were reenacted in the ritual. The rituals and the myths were recorded on the coffin in order to ensure the deceased a safe journey to the underworld and a happy existence in the beyond for eternity. On C47714 I have found evidence of continuation as well as of change. Old ideas are combined in new, creative ways, attesting to the genius of the religious thinkers at the time. Most prominent is the idea of the oneness between the deceased and Osiris, the king of the underworld, and Amon-Ra, the sun-creator god. This idea, which is very much in line with the general theology of the 21st dynasty, is expressed in numerous ways and is reflected in every aspect of the coffin’s decoration program.
In the process it has been necessary to reconstruct the coffin’s history after it was buried and up to the present, and reestablish the relationship between C47714 and the remaining coffins presented to King Oscar II in 1894.