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Kitten Coffin

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

This coffin, dated by carbon 14 testing of the linen wrappings found within it, is among the oldest of the animal mummies on view in this exhibition. The figurines of kittens, together with the animal mummies inside the coffin, form a bridge between votive figurines and votive animal mummies. Both kinds of objects were intended for the same purpose, to send a request to a god. But votive animal mummies were an innovation at the time this object was made.
MEDIUM Bronze, animal remains, linen
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES 850-540 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Third Intermediate Period to Late Period
    DIMENSIONS 3 1/8 x 2 3/8 x 6 1/4 in. (8 x 6 x 15.8 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Animal coffin with the remains of two individuals. Bronze "brick" surmounted by two kittens seated next to each other, facing the long way, about halfway back. Facing them, the cat on the right is in a better state of preservation. His face is distinguishable. The cats have long, thin, almost exaggerated necks. Their tails lie on the block, curling around toward the left and ending by the front paws. The front legs are nearly vertical. The cats are resting on their derrieres. Their ears are in an "alert" position. Their bodies are incised with lines simulating fur, their toes with "toe" marks. The "brick" they are seated on is a tiny coffin for the cats.
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