Silver Coffin of King Psusennes I

Silver Coffin of King Psusennes I. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 85912

The lid of this silver mummy-shaped coffin portrays King Psusennes I as a mummy with his arms crossed over his chest holding the flail and the scepter. There is a solid gold uraeus, or royal cobra, on his forehead to protect him. The face is decorated with a band of gold across the forehead; the eyes are inlaid with colored glass paste. On the chest and abdomen there are representations of three birds with outspread wings, grasping the Shen signs of eternity. The rest of the coffin lid is decorated with long feathers. Images of Isis and Nephthys are shown on the lid at the level of the feet.

Silver Coffin of King Psusennes I

Psusennes I’s silver coffin is especially remarkable (silver being considered rare than gold in Egypt) and bears the likeness of the King, as does the stunning gold mask found within placed on the mummy (which did not survive beyond mere bones), and the closest compatible example to the more famous mask of Tutankhamun (though it differs in not being adorned with inlay apart from the eyes).

Psusennes I was one of three late period kings (21st-22nd Dynasties) whose burials were found more or less intact at the site of the ancient city of Tanis to the north-east of Egypt’s Delta region. The country was divided during these reigns and the burials were nowhere near as rich as the more famous ‘intact’ burial of Tutankhamun, but nonetheless yielded some spectacular finds. Psusennes I along with his successor Amenemope were buried in chambers beneath the paving of the temple of Amun in Tanis, where they lay forgotten until their rediscovery by Pierre Montet in 1939. Montet’s discovery was the greatest find in Egypt since Tutankhamun, but its excavation on the eve of war in 1939-40 meant the find never received the attention it deserved.

Silver Coffin of King Psusennes I

Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, reign of Psusennes I, ca. 1047-1001 BC. From Tanis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 85912

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