Funerary bed of Herty - ROM2015_14724_3


Funerary bed of Herty

Medium:Wood, gessoed and painted
Geography: Thebes (modern Luxor), Egypt
Date: c. 30 BC-642 AD
Period: Roman Period
67 x 200 x 102 x 14.6 cm
Object number: 910.27
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This funerary bed is a very unusual and very interesting artifact. Beds had been included in some Egyptian burials from earliest times, and lion-headed beds to support a mummy are commonly depicted on coffins and in tombs. During the Roman period, a funerary bed was sometimes used to support the mummy in the tomb chamber, and perhaps during the funerary rites. It is very rare, however, for one to survive intact.

This bed was clearly made for the Afterlife.  It has lion heads at one end, and leonine legs and feet.  The mummy would have been supported by a now-missing mattress of wooden slats and plaited rope. The painted images represent the deceased, Herty, and a woman, presumably his wife, Tshenenetere, in traditional Egyptian funerary scenes, but dressed in Roman style and drawn full-face. Herty is shown light-skinned and blond or balding, while the lady has darker skin and curly black hair. Their relationship is not made clear in the glyphs.

The scenes which decorate the sides of the bed are drawn from the traditional Book of the Dead repertoire, with images of the Weighing of the Heart, the Presentation to Osiris, and Thoth opening the doors of heaven, among others.  The hieroglyphs are not neatly written, but they are readable and chiefly name the Egyptian gods and goddesses depicted. 

The work may have been done somewhat hurriedly, as there are mistakes in carpentry, crudely executed figures, and odd spellings.  Nevertheless, Herty and Tshenenetere expressed their belief in the traditional gods of Egypt, and hoped for an afterlife protected by Anubis, in company with Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Horus, Thoth and the other ancient gods.

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