Work Funerary furniture from Chancellor Nakhti's tomb
Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs
© 2007 Musée du Louvre / Georges Poncet
Religious and funerary beliefs
The Louvre has half of the funerary furniture discovered in the untouched tomb of the Chancellor Nakhti, thanks to the policy of dividing excavation finds. This accumulation - nested sarcophagi, a beautiful statue carved from an acacia trunk, small models of storehouses and barks, mock weapons and toiletry items, mummy jewelry - seems odd, but according to religious beliefs, was essential to the deceased, who needed these objects in the afterlife.
The excavations conducted by the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale in 1903 at Assiut in Middle Egypt, were particularly productive. Twenty-six tombs were discovered, twenty-one of which were inviolate. The largest was Chancellor Nakhti's tomb. Dug into a hillside, it consisted of chapel where statues of the deceased were placed and a burial chamber containing the mummy placed within nested sarcophagi. The rock was too friable to be decorated, so all the funerary furniture designed to accompany the deceased in the afterlife was carved from wood and painted.
In keeping with agreements in force in the early 20th century, the country that participated in excavations received half of the finds. The Louvre Museum therefore acquired forty objects from Nakhti's tomb, forming the most beautiful series from the Middle Kingdom in terms of quantity and quality.
The burial chamber
Setting aside the famous statue carved from the trunk of an acacia tree (link with the cartel of the large statue of Chancellor Nakhti), which was placed in the chapel, let's take a look inside the burial chamber. It is very small and numerous objects are arranged around the coffins. An array of weapons and tools; bows and arrows; mock quivers, adzes, and copper shears are placed above the lid. A series of small statues reproduce the deceased; they are placed in a row, under the gaze of the large wedjat eyes painted on the side of the coffins. Several painted wood models are arranged all around: gift bearers, models of storehouses depicting brewers and millers at work, and boats filled with sailors and oarsmen. Nakhti's mummy was enclosed with a double chest decorated with funerary texts and beautiful painted images. Placed on the side, the mummy was held in place with bundles of linen containing toiletry objects and vases. The mummy itself wore a necklace of large silver spheres, colored bead jewelry and faience amulets. With all these accoutrements, the deceased was prepared to pursue his existence in the afterlife.
During the Middle Kingdom, the rise in the Osiris cult meant that everyone could achieve eternal life by sharing the god's fate. Because Egyptians believed that the afterlife would be similar to life on earth, they had to provide provisions for eternity. Scale-models of meal preparation were therefore sufficient to produce as much food as necessary. The number of statues increased, to ensure perpetual life through them. The mummy also had toiletry items for his comfort. Jewels and amulets protected him from all evil. And thanks to the spells and formulas written on the inner walls of the coffins, the deceased could avoid the pitfalls of his future life. All these objects were meant to be used by the deceased for all eternity.
vers 1950 - 1900 avant J.-C.
H. : 0,62 m. ; l. : 2,12 m. ; L. : 0,58 m.
Vitrine 3 : Au Moyen Empire : la tombe de Nakhti à Assiout, vers 1950 avant J.-C.
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See the related mini-site The Gates of Heaven: Visions of the World in Ancient Egypt