Price on request
TITLE: Lid of a sarcophagus
CULTURE: Ancient Egypt
PERIOD: Saite period, 26th Dynasty, 664 – 525 BC
SIZE: Height87 cm; Width73 cm
PRICE: Available on consultation
PROVENANCE: Private collection Europe 1980.
CONDITION: The upper fragment of the lid of the sarcophagus is in good condition, with a slight chip to the nose.
This is an upper fragment of the lid of a sarcophagus of hardened limestone. Stylistic elements of the features of the sarcophagus make it possible to date the piece to the Saite period. In this dynasty the Saite knew that ancient tombs were defenseless when attacked by looters, so they created sophisticated systems of interment, burying the dead in heavy stone sarcophagi, such as the example of which this lid is a part.
Their particular style can be seen in the sarcophagi, carved from hard stone like granite and diorite, or soft stone like limestone. These have the robustness of early stone sarcophagi but with a personal interpretation of the anthropomorphic coffins of the New Kingdom. In this way at later times a form developed basing its art on that of this dynasty. The Phoenicians were the people who copied this style and created sarcophagi of a totally Egyptian Saite style, like those discovered in Sidon and conserved in the Istanbul Museum.
The sarcophagi of the Saite era are characterized by their large scale, with the features of the face worked in relief and with sculpted ears protruding in front of a tripartite wig. The shoulders are wide but the rest of the body is not defined. There is only a space for the feet and the base which gave stability to the sarcophagus if it were put upright. Sometimes there are various columns of hieroglyphs incised on the on the area of the body, and in some cases there are remains of polychrome decoration.
The underneath of the lid, as is habitual, was hollow, leaving a convex form edged with a border. The walls of the lid and the container were thick and fitted together in such a way that the lid could not slide off. This procedure implied even more work on top of that of the exterior sculpting as the slightest separation between the lid and the body of the container meant that a flat-ended lever could be introduced to open the sarcophagus, and this had at all costs to be made impossible.