Wednesday, 24 February 2016

3,000-year-old fingerprints found on ancient Egyptian coffin

Researchers at a British museum found fingerprints on the underside of an ancient Egyptian priest’s coffin, believed to have been left by craftsmen who moved the lid before its varnish dried more than 3,000 years ago.

The intricate wooden coffin was part of a set made for Nespawershefyt, a priest who rose to the high station of supervisor for craftsmen’s workshops and scribes at the great temple of Amun-Re at Karnak — the major temple complex. He died around 1,000 BC.

A painting of a gazelle, taken from a 4,000-year-old fragment from an Egytian coffin, which shows the artist used fingertips to dab the paint on the hide, making it look textured.
The Nespawershefyt coffin set was one of the first donations to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1822 and has routinely been on display, so no one noticed the fingerprints under the coffin lid until 2005, when museum staff started examining the collection. They announced the discovery ahead of an exhibition that opened this week on Egyptian funerary art and practices.

The Nespawershefyt set — “one of the finest coffin sets of its type in the world” — is made up of three layers. A “mummy board” envelopes the body, then goes inside an inner coffin, which in turn fits into an outer coffin.