Designing Eternity in a 25th Dynasty Egyptian Coffin

Cynthia May Sheikholeslami

Ancient Egyptian cosmology envisages the night sun passing through the body of the sky goddess Nut to be reborn each dawn.  Funerary texts associate this with the reawakening of the deceased in the underworld as the god Osiris during the night hours, to be reborn into a solar afterlife as Re, the sun god, journeying through the hours of the days of eternity in his boat.  About 700 BC, dramatic images were painted inside and outside Egyptian coffins from Thebes to magically ensure the efficacy of these beliefs, and the entire ensemble of mummiform coffins in a rectangular box replicated the awakening of Osiris in his shrine.  A coffin belonging to a man from a priestly family in Thebes will be illustrated in detail.

About the speaker

Cynthia May Sheikholeslami is an Egyptologist who has lived for many years in Cairo.  She studied Egyptology at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, and UCLA.  Her interests are in the history and society of the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. 

Cynthia has published a number of studies dealing with the cult and priests of Montu in Thebes during the 25th Dynasty, and was invited to lecture on this subject at the Sorbonne in November-December 2013. She directed an ARCE-AEF funded project to x-ray and CT-scan three mummies from a family of priests of Montu, and is preparing a publication of some of their funerary equipment discovered in the Hatshepsut Temple for the Polish-Egyptian Mission at Deir el-Bahari, of which she is a member. 

Cynthia was invited to lecture at the Sackler Symposium at the British Museum in 2002 and 2014, and at the Vatican Coffins Conference in Rome in 2013 and 2016.  She regularly presents at the conferences of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) and the Association for the Study of Travelers in Egypt and the Near East (ASTENE), as well as at the International Congresses of Egyptologists.  She has also been invited to give talks at ARCE-Portland, ARCE-NW in Seattle, the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, and the Manchester Museum.

This lecture is free to attend and no booking is necessary.