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Work Sarcophagus of Iniuia

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs

Sarcophagus of Iniuia

© R.M.N./P. Leroy

Egyptian Antiquities
Religious and funerary beliefs

Author(s):
Guichard Sylvie

This is the sarcophagus of Iniuia, a high official of the late 18th Dynasty who held the titles of Royal Scribe and Chief Steward of Memphis. Various museums throughout the world have owned objects in his name for many years, but it was not until 1993 that a team of archaeologists from the Egypt Exploration Society and Leiden Museum rediscovered Iniuia's tomb, near that of King Horemheb, in the New Kingdom necropolis of Memphis at Saqqara.

A fashionable sarcophagus

The most common type of (stone or wooden) sarcophagus from the New Kingdom reproduces the form of the deceased's mummified body. In the late 18th Dynasty, some sarcophagus lids were veritable high-relief statues, featuring images of the deceased wearing his finest clothes. The sarcophagus of Iniuia illustrates this innovation. Iniuia is portrayed lying with his arms at his sides; he wears a long skirt with a pleated front, a linen shirt with finely pleated sleeves, and the kind of long, heavy wig that was fashionable in the early 19th Dynasty. The decoration of the outside of the box is very conventional, however: an arrangement of small panels which alternate funerary formulae taken from the Book of the Dead with representations of deities protecting the deceased. The latter include Anubis and the four sons of Horus. In the four corners, ibis-headed gods hold the four supports of heaven.

Objects scattered worldwide

The column of hieroglyphic text engraved on the front of Iniuia's skirt informs us that he was a high official in the Royal Administration, who held the titles of Royal Scribe and Chief Steward of Memphis. Iniuia's funerary material was dispersed to a remarkable number of museums all over the world: apart from this sarcophagus, the Louvre also owns a pyramidion in his name; the Berlin Museum has two columns; the Cairo Museum owns several reliefs and a stele; the Oriental Institute of Chicago has a fragment of a lintel; and the Boston Museum has a miniature sarcophagus lid with shabtis. These various monuments complete Iniuia's titulary (Overseer of the cattle of Amun, Scribe of the King's gold and silver treasure), and give the name and title of his wife: Iuy, Chantress of Amun.

The rediscovery of Iniuia's tomb

Excavations undertaken in 1993 near the tomb of Horemheb unearthed the tomb of Iniuia, a complex consisting of a courtyard with a burial shaft leading to the funerary chambers and two chapels, one covered with well preserved painted scenes, the other surmounted by a mud-brick step pyramid decorated with reliefs. The discovery of a magnificent stele with a cornice, representing Iniuia and his wife worshipping Osiris in the presence of their two daughters and two sons, made it possible to complete the genealogy of this family. Moreover, the style of the reliefs, and the titles held by Iniuia's sons (both scribes of the treasury of the Temple of Aten) suggest that Iniuia's funerary complex dates from the Post-Amarna Period (late 18th Dynasty).

Technical description

  • Sarcophagus of Iniuia

    New Kingdom; late 18th and early 19th Dynasties; 1400-1290 BC

    Saqqara; tomb of Iniuia

  • Diorite

    H. 0.72 m; W. 2.05 m; D. 0.65 m

  • Gift of the consul Thédénat-Duvent, 1823

    D 2

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Sarcophagi
    Room 14

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