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THE UNDERGROUND LEVEL OF THE DUCAL COURTYARD:
EGYPTIAN SECTION OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM


MUMMIES, SARCOPHAGI AND FUNERARY MASKS

After the collection of sculptures from Medinet Madi, in a display case within the Egyptian section is the Memphis triad Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, consisting of wooden statuettes depicting the god of the dead Osiris joined to Memphis deities Ptah and Sokar. Ancient Egyptians had been placing statuettes of gods and goddesses in tombs ever since the 20th dynasty (1187 through 1075 BC). These statuettes often had a hollow inside containing a funerary papyrus scroll, embalmed body parts of the deceased or grains of wheat or barley. As these grains absorbed the fertile mud from the banks of the Nile they sprouted, symbolizing rebirth.
The exhibition also includes a varied display of funerary masks. Wooden and brightly painted masks were placed onto the sarcophagus cover made in the likeness of the human body. One dating from between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD is made of moulded plaster. This sort of mask covered the face of the mummy. The collection of mummy masks provides evidence for the changes occurred in ancient Egyptian funerary customs and rituals throughout the centuries.

Funerary mask, golden plaster and glass, 3rd - 4th century AD, unknown provenance.
Plaster was a more malleable material to depict details of the face than wood and paper-pulp. This sort of mask was not modelled in the likeness of the dead person. The eyes were depicted truthfully by using glass.
Last but not least, a collection of sarcophagi with human shaped covers, a polychromatic shroud and two funerary ensembles, one of which had belonged to the tomb of Pef-tjau-auy-aset and the other was acquired from marquis Busca in the early 1800s. The latter consists of a mummy, a sarcophagus and a papyrus. Actually, the three elements had not belonged to the same tomb. The sarcophagus, in fact, is made up of two parts dated to different ages whereas the mummy dates from a later period.


The collection of sarcophagi, all dating from between 900 and 400 BC, offer a rich overview of the ancient Egyptian funerary rituals and religious beliefs. Among the many interesting exhibits on display are statuettes of deities, amulets, hieroglyphic propitiatory formulas, images depicting the deceased in front of the most important gods (psychostasia), the coffin holding the mummy and the canopic jars, the deceased's heart being weighed to prove the dead person's honesty.
   

Mummy Shroud, plastered painted cloth, 26th dynasty (664-525 BC), unknown provenance.
The shroud depicts goddess Nut raising her arms to the sky to form an arch symbolizing the vault of heaven. Below is winged Nut holding Maat's feather in her hands.

Sarcophagus of Tetet, wood covered with painted cloth, 22nd-24th dynasties (945 through 712 BC), unknown provenance.
The end of the sarcophagus is enriched with Isis knot, above is a djed pillar featuring a sun disk, Osiris' feathers and horns and cobras on its top. The human-shaped cover features a scarab holding the sun of the day in the forelegs and the sun of the night in the hind legs.

Pa-di-Khonsu' sarcophagus cover, wood covered with painted cloth, 22nd dynasty (945 through 718 BC), unknown provenance, donated by Busca family.
The sarcophagus human-shaped cover features winged Nut, the deceased being presented to gods, his heart being weighed and the mommy in deathbed. Within is a stunning image of goddess Nut with her name written in hieroglyphs above her head.

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Castello Sforzesco - Piazza Castello   20121 MILAN