9. ‘Lords of Life’


  1. Steven Snape

Published Online: 21 MAR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444393743.ch9

Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death

Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death

How to Cite

Snape, S. (2011) ‘Lords of Life’, in Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444393743.ch9

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2011
  2. Published Print: 28 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405120890

Online ISBN: 9781444393743



  • ‘Lords of Life’ - coffins;
  • multi-functional coffin - ancient Egyptian coffin, not simply a container to convey a dead body to the tomb;
  • coffin, identified with Osiris - its shape mimicking the wrapped, mummiform appearance of that god as an anthropoid coffin;
  • Predynastic and Archaic Period coffins - naturally preserved bodies from desert burials, the need to preserve the human body;
  • prejudicial nature of use of coffins - development of burial chambers, making itself known to the Egyptians;
  • switch from the ‘short-form’ coffin - housing a contracted body, to the ‘Lords of Life’ ‘long-form’ coffin, holding an extended body;
  • end of Dynasty 5, decoration of coffins - different to that of the Archaic Period, domination of ‘palace-façade’ decoration;
  • decoration of a standard box coffin - rectangular in form, deep lower part (case) and a relatively thin, usually flat lid;
  • box coffin of Userhet from Beni Hasan;
  • box coffins in late Old Kingdom - traditions, emerging in Memphite area, influenced by royal innovations


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Multi-Functional Coffin

  • Predynastic and Archaic Period Coffins

  • Coffins in the Old Kingdom

  • Coffins at the End of the Old Kingdom

  • The Decoration of a Standard Box Coffin

  • Box Coffins in the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom

  • Osirian Features of Box Coffins