Skip to main content

Coffin: E.71.1903

An image of Coffin

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Alternative views

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 19




Rectangular box coffin belonging to a man named Khety whose tomb was found, still intact, in Beni Hasan. The coffin is made of sycomore fig and is inscribed with a single line of standard formulae calling for Osiris and Anubis to provide offerings for Khety’s use in the afterlife. There is a pair of wedjat-eyes on one side allowing the deceased to see out. Khety’s job titles are not specified, but it is likely that he was a fairly wealthy person since his burial included models of people working on his behalf, presumably reflecting his earthly standard of living as well as his intentions for his status in the afterlife. These models include E.71.a.1903, E.71b.1903, E.71c.1903, E.71d.1903 and E.71e.1903.

Each side of the box is constructed from two edge-jointed planks (although part of one side is missing), tangentially sawn and only roughly finished. The joints are secured with dowels, most of which are made of sidr. The corners are mitred with a small butt joint at the top. In addition to the dowels along each corner, there is a tied joint at the top and bottom. Dowel holes along the bottom of the panels indicate how the base fitted within the walls. The lid is also made of two planks (full-length). On the underside are three roughly shaped retaining battens pegged into the planks across the centre and one at each end. The carpenters cut two marks into the top of the foot-end panel of the box to match up with marks on one of these battens, presumably to give an indication of which way around the lid fitted.

The interior of the coffin is bare wood, except for a thin white paste sealing the joints. On the exterior, a very thin discontinuous layer of calcite acts as a ground for the earth pigment paint. Flaws in the wood were filled with a rough paste and painted with a slightly darker paint.

Drafting lines drawn against a straight edge using a reed pen are visible in the location of the hieroglyphic text and eyes. The lines continue from the coffin box to the lid, suggesting that the final decoration was applied after the coffin was complete and closed. The text was sketched in black then coloured with a thin layer of Egyptian blue. A small trail of blue droplets shows where the scribe let his brush drip onto the surface of the lid.

Measurements and weight

Height: 50 cm
Length: 186 cm
Width: 44.4 cm

Find spot

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1903) by The Beni Hasan Excavation Committee


12th Dynasty#
Middle Kingdom
Circa -2010 BCE - -1950 BCE

Materials used in production


References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: E.71.1903
Primary reference Number: 50676
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 16 March 2021 Last processed: Thursday 3 August 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Antiquities

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Coffin" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-09-27 10:28:05

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Coffin |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-09-27 10:28:05|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Coffin</figcaption>

More objects and works of art you might like

Wooden coffin fragment

Accession Number: E.3.1908


Accession Number: E.GA.3011.1943

Wood coffin fragment

Accession Number: E.4.1908

Cartonnage mummy case of Nakhtefmut

Accession Number: E.64.1896

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...