ancient egypt: history and culture

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Corn mummies

Corn mummy     Corn mummies were mummiform objects made of a mixture of grain and earth tied together with strips of linen bandages and put in the grave inside small wooden coffins which are often decorated with pictures and inscribed with the name of Osiris or one of his epithets.

Corn mummy in coffin with falcon head.
Source: Goyon & Cardin 2007, p.295

    Because of the shape of these coffins, they are at times wrongly identified as "falcon mummies", or because of the size and shape of the mummy, as "infant mummies".[1] They had a length of up to half a metre, had often an erect phallus and were at times furnished with a sceptre and a crown reminiscent of the depictions of Osiris. It is therefore generally assumed that they represent this god [2] in the guise of the corn god Neper and that the sprouting grain symbolizes the resurrection of the deceased.[4]
    This connection between Osiris and fertility, especially the growth of corn, dates to the Middle Kingdom. In the Coffin Texts spells speak of resurrection in the context of sprouting grain. The specimens to survive (about a hundred of them [10]) date from the first millennium BCE. They were found in pits rather than in tombs and were therefore apparently part of the Osirian mysteries and not funerary equipment.[2]
[1] Jean Claude Goyon, Christine Cardin, Proceedings of the ninth International Congress of Egyptologists,Peeters Publishers, 2007, pp.293f.
[2] Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, Dictionary of Egypt, British Museum Press, 1995, p.72
[3] Elizabeth A. McCabe, An Examination of the Isis Cult with Preliminary Exploration Into New Testament Studies, University Press of America, 2007, p.64
[4] Jean Claude Goyon, Christine Cardin, Proceedings of the ninth International Congress of Egyptologists,Peeters Publishers, 2007, p.296

 


 

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