burial masks, coffins

Psusennes silver inner coffin

Psusennes is the fourth king of the Twenty-First dynasty, which with the Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth, and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties are combined into the group titled Third Intermediate Period. This would be an extended period of decline in prestige, fractured kingship, and foreign rule. 

Before Psusennes reign the capital had been moved north to Delta where the royal necropolis of Psusennes I, Amenemope, and Shoshenq II were later discovered intact and unlike the tomb of Tutankhamun, undisturbed by ancient looters. A very large cache of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, precious stones, burial masks was discovered there by Pierre Monet in 1939 and 1949. By all rights, the find should be more famous than Tutankhamun because the tomb was untouched but due to the moist climate at the delta and the inundation by Lake Manzala most of the wooden and perishable objects were destroyed by water.  

One is reasonably tempted to consider this silver coffin less precious than the solid gold inner coffin of Tutankhamun, but silver had to be imported into Egypt from other countries whereas gold veritably poured into Egyptian royal coffers from within the country so silver was actually more expensive to Egyptian royals than gold. 

The solid gold mask is an object of fascination. It is smaller than you might imagine. One wonders how a mummified face can fit inside it, although it is clear how it is placed on the mummy front to back with gold metal tabs fitting through slots then bent. It appears to be rather light were it not gold. As if it is about the approximate thickness of three or four sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil hammered together to give you an idea of it. Not at all like the burial mask of Tutankhamun which is inlayed throughout with polished pieces of precious and semi-precious stones. 

Psusennes gold burial mask, on temporary display Denver Art Museum

Tutankhamun's burial mask permanent display Cairo Museum

Tutankhamun's solid gold inner coffin

Tutankhamun's middle coffin

Tutankhamun's outer coffin

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