Friday, October 26, 2012

Slipper Coffins

Figure 1 - Slipper Coffin of
an 18th Dynasty woman
     Slipper coffins are among the oddest looking things ever used in ancient Egyptian burials. They are called slipper coffins because they are made of one piece and the body of the deceased was slid into them. Then a cover, often with a very stylized face on it, was placed over the top to close the coffin.

     This particular coffin (see figure 2) shows what appears to be hair on each side of the face and very odd "crossed arms" below. It is rather hard to say what the two "lumps" above the crossed hands are supposed to represent. The coffin was found by George Steindorff during excavations at Aniba in 1930 and it probably dates to the Eighteenth Dynasty. It is currently on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Figure 2 - close up of the slipper coffin in the
Kunsthistorisches Museum
Some slipper coffins have marks on the inside of the heads that show that the heads were turned on a potter's wheel. Some also show traces of paint.

These coffins appeared outside of Egypt first, and were later used in Egypt for non-wealthy burials. Slipper coffins are found in the levant and Mesopotamia and are still in use there during the Parthian Period.

Here are some links to other information about slipper coffins:


  1. Thanks for this. Someone posted a photo of a slipper coffin on a Facebook group dedicated to AE coffins, and I had never heard of them. This told me everything I needed to know.

  2. I'll guess that the "lumps" below the head and above the crossed arms are breasts.
    U of Penn Archeology Museum has a lovely blue enameled terracotta coffin in their Middle East Section item #B9220.