Mummies and Coffins in US Regional Museums (Pinterest Board)

One of my interests in the last few years has been locating regional museums in the United States that have Egyptian collections. It has become sort of a game. If I get an unexpected layover somewhere (which I always do because I have the worst luck in flying), I see if they have any local museums with Egyptian objects. Mostly I do this through google and Flickr, though sometimes old newspaper clippings are also helpful.

It seems like every nouveau riche of the gilded age wanted an Egyptian artifact to show off to his friends, and the local library, historical society, or museum was often the ultimate benefactor. Also, as I noted in the post about the Scripps Museum in San Diego, small museums often supported organizations like the EES. In the 19th and early 20th Century, Egypt divided finds with excavating organizations, so a lot of the finds from the EES digs were distributed to the donors and wound up in small collections.

Very few of these objects have been formally published, and because of this, their existence isn’t widely known. For this reason, I’ve started a Pintrest board of Egyptian mummies and coffins in US regional museums. These are the ones I want to see but haven’t seen yet (unless the picture on the map is credited to meechmunchie, my Flickr alter-ego).  Eventually I’d like to have all of them on the list.

But wait, you say! Isn’t Pinterest for looking at wedding cakes and tutorials for  overly precious craft projects? Well, yes it is. However, they have a feature that allows me to build a map with pictures of things in different locations, and it’s surprisingly fun to use.

Follow Rokujo’s board Rokujolady’s Coffins and Mummies of the US Tour on Pinterest.

Posted in 21st Dynasty, 30th Dynasty Coffins, Excavations of the Past, General, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Alive (News, and maintenance)

It has been forever since I updated this blog, and many things have changed in my world. I am no longer a software engineer with Egyptological dreams, I’m now an Egyptology graduate student who sometimes codes. In the future, my goal is  that “sometimes coding” will involve actually learning how to use WordPress to make this page a little less generic.

Mourning Isis, from the foot of the coffin of Nauny, MMA  30.3.23a

Mourning Isis, from the foot of the coffin of Nauny, MMA 30.3.23a

If you follow the page at all, you may have noticed that I have removed the old mediawiki page.  I backed up all of the content, and I hope to recycle some of it into blog posts, my hope being that presenting it in a less encyclopaedic format will be of interest to more readers. There was some really nice information up there, so I’m not going to waste it.

Finally, if you have posted in the comments, and are not a  Spambot, I apologize for not having approved your comment. At this point, there are so many spam comments in the backlog that I will probably have to just delete all of them unless I can find a spam solution that will filter out all the spam I’ve already gotten.  I suppose I should be proud that my page attracts such a large and diverse group of spambots, from all over the world.


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Provenance Seeks Mummy-Case

What does Mr Robert Nagengast have to do to send you home with this nearly flawless Ptolemaic or late-period mummy-case? He says he has to ask his manager, but he thinks he can even throw in a 1991 mauve Pontiac Bonneville in almost-working condition!

Robert Nagengast sells a mummy at his gallery. 1965.

“What Every Home Needs–A Mummy”

This is a press photo with a slug on the back with the title “What Every Home Needs–A Mummy” . It’s from the Baltimore Sun, and stamped with the date Dec 8, 1965, which I assume is close to the time the associated story ran if it ever did.  (Online archives of the Sun only go back to 1990.) A stamp on the back gives the photographer as Ralph Robinson. Unfortunately, the identity of the editor who saw fit to “enhance” Mr. Nagengast’s eyebrows and mustache with a black marker is unknown.


See? People were ‘shopping things before they had ‘shop.

In seriousness, though, the slug on the back reveals that Mr. Nagengast worked for Windsor Galleries on 1913 North Charles Street in Baltimore. He said in the article that his shop would be hosting the mummy-case for a couple of months before putting it on sale.

Mr. Nagengast apparently obtained the mummy from a private collection about which no further details are given. The article states that the mummy case is from the 4th -6th century, and I assume the author means “BC”, and 400-600 BCE seems a reasonable guess (for once). Note to self: Do more research on this style of mummy-case. The slug also points out that the mummy is not inside.

So where is Mr. Nagengast’s mummy case now? I’ve got no idea. It seems Windsor Galleries is long gone–gone enough not to leave a trace on Google. Google Maps shows an empty lot and an abandoned gas station at 1913 Charles in Baltimore.

Part of my reason for posting it is on the pie-in-the-sky hope that someone might see it and say “Hey, that looks like the mummy in the museum in my hometown!” I hope it’s still around, and maybe its current curators did not know about its stint in Mr. Nagengast’s gallery.  My other reason for posting this is that I think often we disregard the modern history of ancient artifacts–and this is an aspect of their history that I find fascinating.  If the famous Nefertiti bust could talk, her tales of the 20th century Germany would be at least as riveting as her stories of Akhetaten. Whether we like journey these objects have taken or not, whether it’s ethical or legal or even morally right, the journey is interesting. In the case of this somewhat portly businessman with his extra-dark ‘stache, hawking his mummy-case, it’s slightly humorous.

Text of the slug on the back:

What Every Home Needs--A Mummy
It may not be the latest in living room furniture, but for historians and Robert Nagengast, of 
the Windsor Galleries, it's a find. Specifically, it is an Egyptian mummy case (minus the 
mummy) dating back to the Fourth to Sixth Century. Mr. Nagengast obtained it from a pri-
vate collection. He said it will be on display at 19(?)13 North Charles street for several months be-
fore it goes on sale.
Posted in Antiquities Market, Ptolemaic Coffins, Uncategorized, Vintage Images | Tagged | Leave a comment

Stumbling Upon Mentuhotep, Overseer of the Granaries

“Huh. That looks familiar”

A offering by the king of a thousand in bread, beer, cattle, and fowl for the ka of the Overseer of the Granary of the God’s Offerings(?) Mentuhotep.

I often think this about seeing artifacts in older publications–like I might have seen them before in a small museum, unlabeled, or labeled “unprovenanced.”  For example, I was pretty convinced that one of the coffins in Eva Liptay’s book on Third Intermediate Period Coffins in Prague was almost identical to the Stanford one. I was thinking that maybe they were part of a set.  On looking carefully, I noticed that they were really different….so when I get that deja-vu feeling, I usually dismiss it as my mind playing tricks on me.

Not today! I’ve got this one nailed! Continue reading

Posted in Abydos, Amarna, California, Excavations of the Past, Middle Kingdom, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A “Remuddled” Yellow Coffin At Stanford University

At some point in the last decade of the 19th century a Doctor R H Plummer, Professor of Anatomy at the oldest medical college in the Western United States,  traveled to Egypt and bought himself a mummy case along with its occupant. When he returned home to San

The Case of Dr. Plummer’s Mummy

Francisco, Dr Plummer gave the coffin to the museum of his university, the Cooper Medical College. He mentioned  having recently acquired his donation from Thebes in a commencement speech he gave to the class of 1891. (Plummer,1892, 5)  The mummy “lived” through the great quake of 1906 and when the college was merged with Stanford University in 1912, it went to Stanford.

The coffin strikes any viewer who has seen several of this type of coffin as looking very odd, and the placard at the Cantor Museum explains why:  over eighty percent of the lid was estimated by the conservators to have been repainted in modern times. This “remuddling” is said to have been to make the decor more appealing to modern tastes, but the rationale for this isn’t explained.  I am curious as to who the owner was, and what the original looked like.  In order to make a guess as to its original appearance, we need to look at the style of the coffin and exactly what was repainted and recarved in modern times.

Continue reading

Posted in 21st Dynasty, California, Third Intermediate Period Coffin | 2 Comments

Now You See It, Now You Don’t: A Hieratic Scrawl on the Ka Nefer Nefer Mask

I recently found this picture from a 1952 article in the Illustrated London News. There’s a two page spread on the discovery of the Tomb of Sekhemkhet by M. Zakaria Goneim, and a picture of one of my favorite funerary ensembles, that of Lady Ka Nefer Nefer!

This picture really illustrates something I’ve brought up on the wiki, and something that I’ve seen mentioned once in the literature, though I can’t remember where.

In the 1952 picture, Ka Nefer Nefer’s mask has something scrawled on the hand. On the following picture taken by myself at the Saint Louis Art Museum, circa 2010, it does not. You can see that the inscription has been rubbed out.

 In Goneim’s official publication of the excavation, he translates the hieratic inscription on the hand as “Neferu”. Goneim thought that Neferu was the lady’s nickname, and his transcription of the name into hieroglyphs is shown at left. (Goneim, 1957, pp27)


The shabtis bear her full name, Ka Nefer Nefer, and the amulets are inscribed for Neferu. This hieratic scrawl on the hand was the only place where the mask itself was inscribed for her.

…and now it’s gone.


“The Discovery of a New Step Pyramid: A Third Dynasty Find at Sakkara.” The Illustrated London News 7 June 1952: 980-81. Print.
Goneim, M. Zakaria, Service des Antiquites de L’Egypte. Horus Sekhem-khet – The Unfinished Step Pyramid At Saqqara, Volume 1. Excavations at Saqqara. Imprimerie de L’Institut Francais D’Archeologie Orientale. Cairo. 1957. pp 25,26 pp 113,115, Plates LXVII-A, LXVIII


Posted in Antiquities Market, Excavations of the Past, New Kingdom Coffins, Vintage Images | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Horemheb the Renep Priest in The Bay Area

Renep Priest Horemheb Inscription

Shabti of the Renep Priest Horemheb

At a local antique store, amidst the mouldering old books and the vases that seem to wait for Marie Antoinette herself to walk in the door and fork over exorbitant prices for their kitschy beauty is a rare object: a Late Period  Egyptian funerary figure, or Shabti. The owner was a priest named Horemheb.

The shabti is about 5 inches tall and made of robin’s egg blue faience.  It has some white discolourations on the right shins and on the right side. The faience was not glossy but instead had a matte texture, and the figure was very heavy.  It is a mumiform statue on a plinth like the coffins with which it is contemporary. It has a back column which is the same width as the back lappet of the wig which is separated from the wig by an incised line.  The face is elongated and has a rather knobby and protruding chin which makes it slightly grotesque looking.  The arms of the figure are crossed and the hands both grasp a hoe, with the right hand grasping a sort of rope as well. Unlike other shabtis of this person, this one has a plaited beard. The glyphs are very delicately and skillfully rendered–they’re incised vertically on the front and on the back pillar in the direction shown. Something that struck me was how the Khered child almost seems to sit on the “pa” block. On the back, the Sheryt child is “sitting” on a stylized “n” glyph. I’ve tried to express this in the reproduction above. The glyphs say, roughly, “Cause to be illuminated the Osiris, The Renep Priest Horemheb, son of Ankh-pa-khered, born of Ta-shery(t)-in-(ta)-ih(et).”

Collectors’ sites can sometimes be a little short on facts, and dealers’ sites are even worse. Unfortunately, these were pretty much the entirety of Google’s  yield. The published “dead tree” literature was nearly silent regarding Horemheb. Glenn Janes’ Shabti: a Private View lists a Shabti of this person, but no provenance. Apparently, the Louvre purchased a set of  beautifully made faience plaques with a “http di nsw” formula belonging to Renep Priest Horemheb from a Drouot auction in September 1999 (30/9/99, Lot 197).   (Tariant, 1999) . They also acquired a shabti of Horemheb from a source unknown to myself in April 2005. The shabti and the plaques are now ascension numbers E32787, and E32591 respectively.  The 1999 date given by Tariant for the plaques is the earliest date I can verify  for funerary equipment of Horemheb. I must say, however, that I have very limited access to old auction catalogues. A much older date, which I’ve been unable to verify comes from the 14th of April 2011 Christies sale in London (Sale 6060, lot 145) , which it claims came from Gallery Pytheas in Paris in 1975. (Christies, 2011)

Janes lists several other auctions where shabtis of this owner were sold. The earliest date he has for the shabtis is the above Drouot auction and an auction at the Dorotheum, Vienna on 13/12/1999, Lot 142.  (Janes, pp201) As for our particular Shabti, it came from an Arte Primitivo Gallery auction in the early 2000′s. I first saw it in the antique store in 2005.

So, what do we know about Horemheb? Very little, actually.  He lived during the twilight of Pharaonic Egyptian Civilization, the Late Period. He was a Renep priest. The word “Renep” seems to translate to “rejuvenation”and the title of Renep Priest is associated with the cults of Hathor and Sekhmet in Third Nome of lower Egypt, hence the Louvre’s attribution of the statue to Kom el Hisn (Johnson, pp28), It’s possible that the burial was elsewhere in the area, for example, at Kom el Firin or Sais. (Spencer, 2008) Horemheb’s father’s name was Ankhpakhered and his mother’s name, though it’s written in a highly abbreviated fashion on this particular Shabti was probably Ta-sherit-en-ta-ihet. The Ihet, or “the Cow” here is probably a reference to the goddess Hathor, which would be perfectly appropriate for the mother of a man functioning in the cult of Hathor. Horemheb’s family was wealthy enough to furnish him with what seems to have been a lavish burial. The plaques in the Louvre have holes on the sides indicating that they would have been sewn down the front of the shroud of his mummy. His shabtis are of excellent quality.

I went through a bit of an ethical dilemma about whether I should write about this topic. There is a school which believes that items of no provenance on the art market should not be published lest publishing them lends legitimacy the collecting of looted objects. To me, this seems like severing one’s nose to spite one’s face.  Like it or not, the item is on the art market now, and there is very little  reliable information on it available. I believe that there is some value in tracking the movement of these items as they surface and disappear again into various private collections. It’s worth recording that the item from the Louvre is part of a set amongst which there are stylistic variations and orthographic variations. These deserve to be recorded though we’ve lost so much of the context of the object.

I hope that new information comes to light about Horemheb and his family, but we can’t ever get the original archaeological context of these Shabtis back, so we’ll have to rely on objects for which we do have context to tell us more about them.


“AN EGYPTIAN BLUE GLAZED COMPOSITION SHABTI FOR HOREMHEB.”Christie’s Sale 6060 Lot 145. Christie’s, 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 28 July 2012. <>.
Janes, Glenn, and Tom Bangbala. Shabtis, a Private View: Ancient Egyptian Funerary Statuettes in European Private Collections. Paris: Cybèle, 2002. pp 202
Johnson, Janet H. “The Chicago Demotic Dictionary: R.” Oriental Institute. Oriental Institute of Chicago, 16 July 2012. Web. 28 July 2012. <>.
Pièce de l’équipement funéraire du prêtre renep Horemheb, fils de Ankhpakhered Serviteur funéraire. “Musée du Louvre” Web. 28 July 2012.  <>
Pièce de l’équipement funéraire du prêtre renep Horemheb, fils de Ankhpakhered: Parure de sa momie . ”Musée du Louvre” Web. 28 July 2012.  <>
Spencer, Neal. “Kom Firin I: the Rammeside Temple and the Site Survey” London: The British Museum Press. Print. 2008. Web. 30 July 2012. <>
Tariant, Eric. “Un Rendez-vous D’automne.” Le Journal Des Arts. N.p., 10 Sept. 1999. Web. 28 July 2012. <>.
Posted in Antiquities Market, California, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Smoleński’s Excavations at Gamhoud

About a month ago, I went to Poland as a tourist. Poland is a beautiful, friendly country with a fascinating and sometimes tragic history, but since this is an Egyptology blog and since Egyptian stuff is never far from my mind, I’d spent some time scouting the Egyptian Collection scene before we departed.  Needless to say, my Egyptian agenda was not on the tour’s itinerary, so on a miserably rainy “free afternoon” in Krakow, while others were shopping for souvenirs and revisiting Wawel castle, I slipped into a quiet garden behind a mossy stone wall. The lady at the ticket booth took my money grudgingly and gesticulated impatiently at me. I do not understand much Polish beyond “Nie rozumiem“, which is usually evident by the time you say it,  but I do understand it when someone points at their watch with a deliberate stab. This means “We’re closing in twenty minutes, so make it fast.” Thus, like the original excavation of the Gamhoud coffins, my introduction to the Krakow collection was quite breif.

Krakow is in the possession of four coffins from the area of Gamhoud in Lower Egypt. How these got to Krakow is the subject of this post.

Continue reading

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Two Sarcophagi for Teos

A few weeks ago, I found this antique albumen print while perusing the images of an antiquarian book dealer. It seems to have been pasted in a book at one point, judging from the circular thinning of the paper on the back of the image where I suspect dabs of glue might have been. The photograph is by an Armenian photographer by the name of Gabriel (?) Lekegian who owned a studio in Cairo in the last two decades of the 19th Century. He seems to have been quite prolific–flickr and google yield no shortage of images bearing his name.

The image is of a Late Period or early Ptolemaic stone sarcophagus lid propped up on wooden blocks.  The photograph has the inscription “Couvercle de Sarcophage du General Taher” No 235, with the subtext: “Voir 234″ : See 234.  The immediate question that came to mind was, “Who was this Taher, how was his sarcophagus found, and why was Lekegian photographing it?”

Sarcophagus lid of Teos

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Egyptological Puzzles

I’ve added this blog to Amduatwiki in order to document small things I’ve discovered and found interesting that are perhaps too small for the scope of Amduatwiki. I’ve intended Amduatwiki to be a collection of burial ensembles with inscriptions and picture of each object in the ensemble and information on where the object has ended up.

Researching these often divided ensembles, which have more often than not been inadequately published takes a lot of time, and Amduatwiki updates are therefore infrequent.  In the course of my research there are smaller discoveries which are just as interesting, yet do not fit into the scheme of the material on Amduatwiki.

What I aim to do here is to make available images and inscriptions on lesser known objects which are located in small museums and not published elsewhere, to highlight aspects of past Egyptological research which I feel has gotten limited attention, and to provide some context for the research showcased on Amduatwiki.

I hope, with this blog, to make a small contribution to the body of Egyptological research.

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