This serene face, gazing into eternity, belongs to the coffin of a man called Thothirdes. It was probably found in Saqqara and is now in Brooklyn Museum (acc. no.: 37.1521 NB the museum disagrees with itself about provenance, I’ve gone with the online catalogue).
I don’t think we know anything about his status or job, but he must’ve been middling wealthy – the coffin is nicely decorated, but his mummification is described as “average” and the structural fabric of the coffin has deteriorated a lot.
However they are sure about his sex and dating – he’s been radiocarbon dated to between 768 & 545 BCE, which correlates nicely with the 26th Dynasty date that his coffin style suggests. And the latest CT scan shows he’s anatomically male (it was in doubt after previous X-rays).
I’ve shared a couple of close-ups of this coffin in the past, but this is my photo of the whole thing. It belonged to a man called Teti, who worked painting the tombs in the Valley of the Kings in the mid-18th Dynasty. It’s in the Brooklyn Museum, acc. no.: 37.14E.
It’s one of the earliest known yellow painted coffins, and the decoration is still evolving towards what would be come standard for that style. The gods that are in the four panels along the side are Imsety, Anubis, Duamutef and Thoth.
Yellow painted coffins make me think of a talk by Meghan Strong about artificial light that I went to – part of her work involved investigating how these coffins would’ve looked as the sun went down during the funerary ritual and candle light was the only illumination.
In the sun the coffin looks like a painted piece of wood, but as the flickering light of wick-on-a-stick lamps takes over the coffins shimmer like gold, representing the transformation of the deceased into an akh.