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To date, six funeral ensembles containing falcon-headed mummy cases have been found. In this paper
these funeral ensembles are discussed, in order to define the conceptual character of the falcon-headed
mummy case, whether its occurrence was confined to a more or less limited period, and whether the
falcon head on mummy cases was essentially a royal attribute.

Within the corpus of Egyptian anthropoid mummy cases, a distinct category is

constituted by the falcon-headed coffins and cartonnages, the most famous of which
is the silver coffin of Shoshenq (IIa) Heqakheperre (fig. 1),1 with a falcon-headed
cartonnage enveloping the royal mummy inside it (fig. 2). It was found on 18 March
1939 by Pierre Montet in Tanis, in the vestibule of tomb NRT III belonging to
In the adjacent tomb (NRTI), Montet found in the sarcophagus of OsorkonII
some debris from his funeral ensemble, containing the gold frames of two falcon
eyes, which might indicate that this king was also buried in a falcon-headed coffin
or cartonnage.3 A falcon-headed sarcophagus was found at Medinet Habu by Uvo
Hlscher, who was in charge of the excavations of the Oriental Institute of Chicago
University during the years 192733.4 This is the granite sarcophagus of the Theban
king Harsiese (A), closed with a falcon-headed lid (fig. 3). In the years 19989, a
British Museum team headed by Jeffrey Spencer uncovered a small elite cemetery of
the Twenty-second Dynasty at the front of the Ramesside temple at Tell el-Balamun
on the western side of the Damietta branch of the Nile in the central Delta. In the
so-called Tomb3, three burials were found, two of which (3/ii and 3/iii) contained a
bronze falcon beak, showing that a falcon-headed coffin had belonged to each of these
burials.5 And finally there is the falcon-headed upper part of a cartonnage, Berlin
M 13465, which may have belonged to a royal burial (fig. 4).6

I would like to express my gratitude to Jeffrey Spencer for reading and commenting on a draft of this paper,
for suggesting some additions to be made in the text, and for kindly supplying me with some of the images
included in this paper. I would also like to thank Klaus Finneiser (Berlin Museum) and Aidan Dodson for sending
me images of the cartonnage Berlin M 13465, and John Taylor for communicating to me his views on the dating
of this piece.
For this numbering, see G. P. F. Broekman, R. J. Demare, and O. E. Kaper, The Numbering of the Kings
called Shoshenq, GM 216 (2008), 910.
P. Montet, Les constructions et le tombeau de Psousenns Tanis (Paris, 1951), 3650, 601, pls xvii-xxxvi.
P. Montet, La ncropole des rois Tanites, Kmi 9 (1942), 18; id., Les constructions et le tombeau dOsorkonII
Tanis (Paris, 1947), 569.
U. Hlscher, The Excavation of Medinet Habu, V: Post-Ramessid Remains (OIP 66; Chicago, 1954), 810.
J. Spencer, Excavations at Tell el-Balamun, 1999/2001 (London, 2003), 2030, pls 2830.
W. Spiegelberg, Die Falkenbezeichnung des Verstorbenen in der Sptzeit, ZS 62 (1927), 2734.

The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 95 (2009), 6781

ISSN 0307-5133
68 gerard P. F. broekman JEA 95

Fig. 1. Falcon head of silver coffin of Fig. 2. Falcon head of cartonnage of

Shoshenq IIa (authors photograph). ShoshenqIIa (authors photograph)

Fig. 4. Upper part of falcon-headed cartonnage M 13465

Fig. 3. Granite coffin lid of King ( gyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung,
HarsieseA (photograph: J. Spencer). Staatliche Museen zu Berlin).
2009 falcon-headed coffins 69
So, to date, six funeral ensembles containing a falcon-headed coffin and/or
cartonnage have been discovered. In this paper these funeral ensemblesor their
remaining partswill be discussed, in order to identify the conceptual character of
the falcon-headed mummy case, and to ascertain whether its occurrence was confined
to a limited period, and whether its use was reserved for royal funerals.

Funeral ensembles

Burial of Shoshenq (IIa) Heqakheperre

Shoshenqs coffin was decorated with a winged scarab and a ram-headed bird, its
wings spread and its tail flanked by two uraei wearing the white crown. The lower part
of the lid was divided into six separate fields by longitudinal and transverse bands,
inscribed with protective spells and wishes for the afterlife. The two uppermost fields,
just below the abdomen, show the goddesses Isis and Nephthys protecting with their
wings the royal cartouches, one being the nomen Shoshenq Meryamun and the
other the prenomen Heqakheperre Setepenre. In both middle fields, the four sons
of Horus are depicted in pairs, and in the lowermost fields, on top of the feet, Neith
and Selket are represented kneeling on gold signs, each of them together with a
jackal. This decoration resembles that on contemporary private cartonnages, and
there is no sign of the ancient rishi pattern which occurs, for instance, on the silver
coffin of PsusennesI. The coffin trough, lacking any outward decoration and with
the representation of the goddess Nut on the interior, was in very poor condition,
as noted by Guy Brunton, who in April 1939 superintended the examination and
removal of Shoshenqs burial:7
It is broken into two large pieces and the foot end is so shattered that at first sight it
looked as if the feet of the mummy with their gold toe-stalls and gold sandals were
projecting beyond the end.
On the mummy within the silver coffin several pieces of jewellery were found,
amongst them two bracelets bearing the cartouches of ShoshenqI, Hedjkheperre
Setepenre Shoshenq Meryamun. The coffin also contained a small pectoral, on
which ShoshenqI is mentioned in his capacity of great chief of the Ma, and another
beautiful small pectoral representing a scarab and the sun disk, flanked by two uraei
wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt. This representation may be read Hedj-
Kheper-Re, the prenomen of Shoshenq I. The state and position of the remains
of the several layers that had originally enveloped the royal mummy were explicitly
described by Brunton:8
After the removal of the cartonnage, the bead network, and the few remaining traces
of the wooden coffin-lid, the jewellery on the chest, neck and arms was laid bare and
removed without difficulty. Next came the bones. There then remained a thick layer of
wood dust, under which was more bead network, and the underside of the cartonnage
in contact with the body of the silver coffin.
Thus it appears that the cartonnage constituted the outermost layer inside the
silver coffin. It consisted of linen and stucco almost completely covered with gold
G. Brunton, Some Notes on the Burial of Shashanq Heqa-Kheper-Re, ASAE 39 (1939), 543.
Brunton, ASAE 39, 542.
70 gerard P. F. broekman JEA 95

foil, rather carelessly put on, so that it often overlaps.9 At the time Shoshenqs burial
was found, the cartonnage, which also had a falcons head like that of the silver coffin,
was decayed and consisted almost entirely of the gold foil, with very little left of the
underlying cloth and plaster. The capably reconstructed cartonnage bears decoration
resembling that of the coffin lid with a few variations, the most striking difference
being the presence of decoration on the back, in contrast to the undecorated trough
of the silver coffin. The bead network inside the cartonnage had totally fallen apart,
except for a few sections, as the threads had almost entirely decayed, and most of the
gold and faience beads had fallen between the bones of the royal skeleton. According
to Brunton, the network reached from the shoulders to the ankles;10 in Montets
description, however, it was restricted to the trunk, only stretching down to just below
the belt.11 Brunton observed that the most unexpected thing about the network was
that it was outside the wooden coffin; about this there is no doubt.12
In none of Montets publications on the royal tombs in Tanis is this wooden coffin
referred to, as far as I know, Brunton being the only one to mention it, and then most
explicitly.13 Though it had completely decayed, Brunton concluded, from the few
fragments underlying the network on top of the bones, and the thick layer of wood
dust curving round the skull, underlying under the bones, and completely covering
the network, that there really must have been a wooden coffin. The head of a faience
uraeus, part of the beard, and fragments of the nemes headdress found close to the
gold mask, might indicate that this mask had formed part of the wooden coffin.
However, it might be possible that Brunton made a mistake here, due to the water-
ruined state of the contents of the silver coffin, and that there was simply a masked
mummy, enclosed by a cartonnage and then the silver coffin, which constituted the
outermost cover.14
The superb portrait-like mask with inlaid eyes and eyebrows and a slightly curved
nose has projecting tenons, which according to Brunton were meant to be inserted
into holes in the edge of the wooden nemes headdress. Whereas Montet supposed that
the tenons served to attach the gold mask to the bead network,15 Ikram and Dodson
assume that the gold mask formed part of a standard mummy-mask.16 As the upper
edge of the gold mask itself constitutes the brim of a nemes headdress, it is not unlikely
that it was attached by its tenons to a nemes made out of some solid material such as
wood or a cartonnage, together constituting either a mummy-mask to be placed over
the head of the mummy, or the upper part of an anthropoid (wooden) coffin.17

Brunton, ASAE 39, 543.
Ibid., 544.
P. Montet, Kmi 9, 65; id., Tombeau de Psousenns, 41; similarly S. Ikram and A. Dodson, The Mummy in
Ancient Egypt (London, 1998), 186.
Brunton, ASAE 39, 544.
Ibid., 544.
Aidan Dodson, personal communication (September 2005).
Montet, Kmi 9, 64.
Ikram and Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt, 185.
If the gold mask alone was simply to have been placed on the facial area of the wrapped mummy, this could
have been achieved by means of threads fixed through holes near the edge in the mask itself, as was the case with
the mask of Wendjebawendjed (Montet, Tombeau de Psousenns, 73). However, in that case a brim of a nemes
headdress forming part of the gold mask itself would have been meaningless.
2009 falcon-headed coffins 71
To the burial equipment of Shoshenq IIa Heqakheperre belongs a set of four
silver canopic coffinettes, human-headed, with the false beard attached to the chin
and wearing the nemes headdress adorned with the royal cobra. Each is inscribed
with a short spell mentioning the protecting geniusImseti, Hapy, Duamutef, or
Qebehsenuf respectivelyfollowed by his son being Shoshenq Meryamun (nomen
in cartouche). These coffinettes were found placed in four obviously reused alabaster
jars, instead of in the stone or wooden canopic chest in which they in all probability
had originally been placed. Altogether thirteen stone jars were found in the vestibule
of the tomb, four of them containing these coffinettes.
Amongst the more than 1550 shabtis found in the vestibule of Psusennes Is tomb,
there were about 40 anonymous faience so-called reis-shabtis, attributed by Montet
to Shoshenq Heqakheperre.18 They have a beard attached to the chin and are wearing
a bag wig (perruque en bourse) resting on the shoulders behind the ears; the arms are
crossed right over left, the left hand resting on the chest, the right hand grasping a
whip running to the left shoulder; they are wearing a plastically elaborated pleated
skirt. Aubert attributed these reis-shabtis to Amenemope,19 whereas Yoyotte ascribed
them again to Shoshenq II(a), associating them with a group of about 360 similarly
anonymous female shabtis of blue glazed faience, manufactured as skilfully as the
reis-shabtis. Yoyottes view was later adopted by Aubert.20 It is now broadly accepted
that all those anonymous shabtis belong to Shoshenq Heqakheperre.21
Burial of Osorkon II
Very little of the funeral ensemble of Osorkon II was found. The large granite
sarcophagus contained, besides the mortal remains of Osorkon II, two more skeletons,
one of which apparently had belonged to a child. Within the sarcophagus a bronze
false beard and some amulets and parts of jewellery were found, as well as the gold
frames of two falcon eyes, adorned with tiny gold grains, that apparently had been
parts of a falcon-headed cartonnage. There were also two heart scarabs, one of lapis-
lazuli, showing the cartouche of a king Osorkon, the other of green jasper, bearing the
cartouche of a king Takeloth. Two canopic jars with the name of the king Osorkon
Si-Bast Meryamun were placed in the sarcophagus, with two others lying between
the sarcophagus and the north wall of the burial chamber.
Burial of king Harsiese
When Hlscher uncovered the tomb of the Theban king Harsiese in front of the
first pylon of the mortuary temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu, he found
that robbers had entered the burial chamber and, having shoved the heavy coffin lid
aside, had plundered the mummy. The granite mummiform coffin trough, that had
belonged to Henutmire, a sister of RamessesII, had been appropriated by Harsiese
for his own tomb. He replaced the lid with a new, but similarly mummiform one,
supplied with the head of a falcon instead of a human (fig. 3). The falcons beak, now

Montet, Kmi 9, 80.
J.-F. and L. Aubert, Statuettes gyptiennes: Chaouabtis, ouchebtis (Paris, 1974), 154.
L. Aubert, Chef et serviteur attribuables au Roi Chchanq II, in B. Abbo (ed.), Tanis: Lor des pharaons
(Paris, 1987), 146.
G. P. F. Broekman, Once More Shoshenq Heqakheperre, GM 181 (2001), 2931.
72 gerard P. F. broekman JEA 95

lost, was attached by means of a peg. An incised inscription along the centre of the lid
mentions king Hedjkheperre Setepenamun Harsiese Meryamun. In the tomb many
faience shabtis and the four canopic jars of Harsiese were found, two of them giving
the nomen and the other two the prenomen.
Burials at Tell el-Balamun (fig. 5)
The elite cemetery at Tell el-Balamun contains at least three tombs, and is quite
closely dated by a heart scarab, found in Tomb 1, belonging to the northern vizier
Iken, on which not only the names of the vizier and his mother feature, but also the
cartouches of Osorkon I (Sekhemkheperre). Unfortunately, besides this heart scarab
and Ikens shabtis bearing his name, no further written evidence was found. From
archaeological evidence, it appears that the adjacent Tomb 2, which proved to be
empty, also belonged to the early Twenty-second Dynasty. As a foundation trench for
the construction of Tomb 3 had been cut into the brickwork of Tomb 2, it is clear
that Tomb 3 is of a later date.22 It is worth noting that Tomb 3 is the only one aligned
parallel to the temple axis, which may suggest that it dates from a time subsequent to
the Third Intermediate Period refurbishment of the temple. This is known to have
been completed under Shoshenq III, but may have begun earlier.
a. Burial 3/ii: In one of the chambers of Tomb 3 the body of an adult male was found
lying in a limestone sarcophagus. Though this burial had been seriously damaged
by water, two pairs of bronze inlaid eyes and brows, of different sizes, were found

Fig. 5. Burials 3.i and 3.ii at Tell el-Balamun (photograph: J. Spencer).

Spencer, Tell el-Balamun, 202.
2009 falcon-headed coffins 73
together with traces of a wooden coffin and a cartonnage. The finding of a bronze
beak of a falcon and two stone falcon eyes proved that there must in addition have
been another falcon-headed coffin, which presumably would have been the outermost
of the set (fig. 6).23
b. Burial 3/iii: A small limestone sarcophagus in the chamber at the south corner of
Tomb 3 contained the remains of the burial of a young child. Only a few objects were
preserved: part of a bronze falcon beak from the mask of the exterior coffin, showing
small traces of gilding, and a pair of bronze-framed inlaid human eyes from the inner
cartonnage body-case (fig. 7). Some fragments of decayed wood with gilding traces
were found which must have belonged to the exterior wooden coffin.24

Fig. 6. Bronze falcon beak and stone falcon eyes (burial 3.ii)
(photograph: J. Spencer).

Fig. 7. Bronze falcon beak and bronze-framed human eyes (burial 3.iii)
(photograph: J. Spencer).

Spencer, Tell el-Balamun, 25.
Ibid., 289.
74 gerard P. F. broekman JEA 95

Head of cartonnage M 13465

This upper front part of a falcon-headed anthropoid casing portrays the hands
knuckle to knuckle, holding a crook and a flail, the arms not being crossed (fig. 4).
According to Dodsons description:25
of other visible details, an archaic hawk perches upon each forearm, and behind the
flail is to be seen a winged uraeus. At ninety degrees to this front-decoration, a sun-disc
on a barque, an ankh and a ba-bird, wearing a sun-disc and protected by a winged sun-
disk (counting from the head-end), are to be seen on the left-hand side of the wig. The
right-hand side of the piece appears to have been largely denuded.
The provenance of this piece is totally unknown.
The coffin identifying the deceased
The Egyptian anthropoid coffin is the result of a tendency, commencing during the
Sixth Dynasty, to cover the face of the mummy with a mask that portrays the features
of the deceased. Later the mask was replaced by a cartonnage completely covering the
mummy, and still later by a wooden anthropoid coffin that enclosed the mummy. The
anthropoid coffin thus functions as a kind of envelope for the mummy, at the same
time imitating it and identifying the deceased. In the Twentieth and Twenty-first
Dynasties the deceased possessed two coffins, an outer and an inner one, completed by
a mummy cover, with both coffins as well as the mummy cover showing the deceaseds
portrait. Royal burial assemblages from the Twenty-first Dynasty reveal a similar
practice. Here however, separate masks and body covers are found as appears from
the intact burial of Psusennes I. Both his silver coffin and his superb gold mummy
mask found within it show the kings face framed by the nemes headdress. From the
partly decayed burial equipment of Psusennes successor Amenemope the gold mask,
originally being an integral part of the kings coffin made of gilded wood, has been
preserved, as well as a second gold mask inside the coffin, covering the mummys face.
Both masks show the idealized portrait of king Amenemope. To the scanty remains
of the inner and outer wooden coffins, found lying to the right of the silver coffin of
Shoshenq Heqakheperre in the vestibule of Psusennes Is tomb, belonged two pairs
of gilded bronze human eyes, inlaid with faience, one pair being a little smaller than
the other one, indicating that the unknown royal possessor of those coffins (probably
Siamun or Psusennes II) had his portrait featuring both on his outer coffin and on the
somewhat smaller inner one.
From this it may be concluded that in royal funerals the inner and outer coffins and
the mummy boards had precisely the same function as in private burials: enveloping
and at the same time imitating the mummy, thus identifying the deceased as an
humanoid incarnation of Osiris and acting as a substitute body for his spirit. The
cartonnage mummy casing, which from the initial years of Osorkon I replaces the
earlier mummy board and funerary mask,26 also shows the deceaseds face, and on
A. Dodson, Coffins and Related Material from the Tomb of Tutankhamun (forthcoming), appendix, an advance
copy of which was provided by Dr Dodson to the present writer in March 2008.
It should be noticed that, during the reigns of Shoshenq I and Osorkon I, traditional wooden mummy covers
were still used in parallel with the earliest cartonnages: J. H. Taylor, Theban Coffins from the Twenty-second
to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, in N. Strudwick and J. H. Taylor (eds), The Theban Necropolis: Past, Present and
Future (London, 2003), 103.
2009 falcon-headed coffins 75
the coffin(s) that enveloped iteither a single one or a set consisting of two or more
coffinsthe portrait of the owner continued to be rendered, as of old.27
Royal burials also adopted the new assemblages, as appears from the silver coffin
and the cartonnage of Shoshenq Heqakheperre, showing the same basic scheme of
decoration as applied on contemporary cartonnages of commoners. However, contrary
to the practice on non-royal coffins and cartonnages, on royal ones the human face
was replaced by that of a falcon, which might reflect the kings identification with
Horus or with the funerary god Soker. Remarkably, in contrast to the otherwise
consistent practice, throughout Egyptian history, of having all mummy casings
belonging to one separate funeral assemblage identify the deceased in the same
way, king Shoshenqs falcon-headed coffin and cartonnage, on the one hand, and
his gold human mummy mask, on the other hand, seem to identify the deceased
differently. However, since on the silver coffin and the cartonnage king Shoshenq is
called Osiris king Shoshenq Meryamun, s
, and on the cartonnage

he is also Osiris king Heqakheperre Setepenre, s , it is clear that those

mummy casings, notwithstanding their avian features, identify Shoshenq with Osiris,
and the same may be the case with the other falcon-headed coffins, though these are
lacking such inscriptional evidence.28 It is necessary to consider the possibility that
the form of these coffins, showing a falcon head, may actually recall Sokar-Ptah-
Osiris, represented as a mummiform, falcon-headed figure, drawn in profile on the
interior surfaces of several wooden coffins, to be dated from the later years of the
Twenty-second Dynasty to the beginning of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty.29
Chronological concerns
Shoshenq IIa
It has been generally assumed that Shoshenq IIa should be dated to the early part of
the Twenty-second Dynasty30 and that his burial in NRTIII is clearly a secondary
one.31 However, there is no unanimity about his identity. According to Kitchen
he is the same as the Theban High Priest of Amun, Shoshenq, son of Osorkon I
and Maatkare;32 Jansen-Winkeln is of opinion that he is a son of Shoshenq I;33 and
H. Jacquet-Gordon supposes that he is Shoshenq I himself.34 This last view is in
The only known dated Theban burial in the new style is that of Padimut and is attributable to the reign of
Shoshenq I, whereas further examples are dated to the reign of Osorkon I: Taylor, in Strudwick and Taylor (eds),
Theban Necropolis, 103.
The inscription on Harsieses coffin does not name him as Osiris; it only says that he is loved by Osiris,
foremost of the westerners, the great god, lord of Abydos.
Taylor, in Strudwick and Taylor (eds), Theban Necropolis, 110 n.147.
K. A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100650 b.c.) (2nd edn; Warminster, 1996),
11718; K. Jansen-Winkeln, The Chronology of the Third Intermediate Period: Dyns. 2224, in E. Hornung,
R.Krauss, and D. A. Warburton (eds), Ancient Egyptian Chronology (HdO I/83; Leiden, 2006), 2368; Broekman,
GM 181, 2737.
Brunton, ASAE 39, 546; Dodson, The Royal Tombs at Tanis, CdE 63 (1988), 2256; id., The Canopic
Equipment of the Kings of Egypt (London, 1994), 85; Broekman, GM 181, 33 n.32.
Montet, Tombeau de Psousenns, 613; Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt2, 11720; id., The
Third Intermediate Period in Egypt: An Overview of Fact and Fiction, in G. P. F. Broekman, R. J. Demare,
and O. E. Kaper (eds), The Libyan Period in Egypt: Historical and Cultural Studies into the 21st24th Dynasties.
Proceedings of a Conference at Leiden University, 2527 October 2007 (EU 23; Leiden, 2008), 189.
Jansen-Winkeln, in Hornung, Krauss, and Warburton (eds), Ancient Egyptian Chronology, 237.
H. Jacquet-Gordon, review of K. A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1st edn; Warminster,
1973), BiOr 32 (1975), 359.
76 gerard P. F. broekman JEA 95

the opinion of the present writer an attractive one, as a significant number of pieces
from Shoshenq Heqakheperres funeral equipment refer to Shoshenq I. On the other
hand, I must admit that I do not see any convincing explanation of why he is given the
prenomen Heqakhepperre instead of Hedjkheperre on four pieces belonging to his
funerary ensemble.35 Against the identification of Shoshenq Heqakheperre with the
HPA Shoshenq is the fact that the latters son Osorkon in his funerary papyrus calls
his father High Priest of Amun instead of king.36 Moreover there is no heirloom from
Osorkon I belonging to the burial equipment of Shoshenq Heqakheperre, whereas
there are several pieces of jewellery that had belonged to Shoshenq I. This gave
rise to the view that Heqakheperre was a son of Shoshenq I. However there is no
evidence that the latter had a son named Shoshenq, and so objections can be raised
against each of the three candidates to be identified with Shoshenq Heqakheperre.
Therefore the only thing that may be stated is that he is an early Twenty-second
Dynasty king, as can also be deduced from the scheme of decoration on his coffin and
cartonnage, which follows contemporary practice on private cartonnages, as pointed
out by John Taylor.37
The fact that a gold mummy mask was found within Shoshenqs falcon-headed
cartonnage constitutes a highly unusual combination,38 as the cartonnage, having
the deceaseds face painted on it, had been introduced to replace the mummy cover
and mummy mask. This might signify that Shoshenq Heqakheperre was originally
buried in a traditional, old-fashioned human-headed coffin ensemble, and that at
his reburial in NRT III, presumably during the reign of Osorkon II, a newly made
silver coffin and cartonnage, both falcon-headed, were added to his funeral ensemble,
possibly in substitution for the original outer mummy casing(s), that might have been
damaged.39 In this connection it should be noted that the corrosion of Shoshenqs
coffin was only slight, the coffin lid being in a perfect condition.40 On the other hand
the presence of plant remains found on the bones of Shoshenq suggests that the
mummy had been in contact with water during a considerable time, and as, according
to Brunton, the grass-roots and mud could not possibly have arrived after its deposit
in Psusennes tomb,41 it is not improbable that Shoshenqs falcon-headed silver coffin
and cartonnage had been manufactured during the reign of Osorkon II and had not
formed part of the primary burial.

G. P. F. Broekman, On the Identity of King Shoshenq Buried in the Vestibule of the Tomb of PsusennesI
in Tanis (NRT III): Part II, GM 212 (2007), 1623, in which the author, quite speculatively, suggested that
ShoshenqI might be reburied in the usurped coffinand even the cartonnageof Shoshenq Heqakheperre.
Reconsidering all pros and cons, the whole idea of that usurpation should be abandoned.
Papyrus Denon, St. Petersburg.
Taylor, in Strudwick and Taylor (eds), Theban Necropolis, 1047; id., Coffins as Evidence for a North
South Divide in the 22nd25th Dynasties, in Broekman, Demare, and Kaper (eds), The Libyan Period in
Egypt, 393 and 396.
Ikram and Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt, 185.
Significantly, the frames of the falcon eyes of Shoshenqs cartonnage show exactly the same decoration,
consisting of tiny gold grains, as the gold frames of the falcon eyes coming from a falcon headed cartonnage,
which were found in Osorkon IIs sarcophagus in NRT I; therefore it is not improbable that both cartonnages
were manufactured by the same artist or at least in the same workshop.
Brunton, ASAE 39, 543.
Brunton, ASAE 39, 547.
2009 falcon-headed coffins 77
Osorkon II or Takeloth I?
Both of the gold frames of falcon eyes which were found in the sarcophagus of
Osorkon II supposedly belong to the funeral equipment of that king. This is,
however, not absolutely certain, as Osorkon IIs sarcophagus contained besides his
own mortal remains two more skeletons. According to Dodson, the position of these
skeletons seems rather suggestive of Late Period intrusions.42 However, from the
presence of the two heart scarabs in Osorkons sarcophagus, it might be deduced
that one of the three occupants of that sarcophagus might have been TakelothI.43
That would imply that the latter, who had been reburied by his son OsorkonII in
chamber 3 of his own tomb (NRT I),44 had at a later moment been transferred to
Osorkons burial chamber.
It might therefore be possible that the gold eye frames came from a cartonnage
that had belonged to the funeral equipment of Takeloth I instead of Osorkon II. In
either case that cartonnage, irrespective of which of them it had belonged to, was
undoubtedly manufactured during, or about, the reign of Osorkon II.
Harsiese A
From the stelophorous statue of Djedthutefankh (B) called Nakhtefmut (Cairo CG
42208), given by favour of king Harsiese (A) while at the same time bearing the
full titles of Osorkon II, it is clear that both kings were contemporaries. HarsieseA
probably died during the reign of Osorkon II and therefore we may assume that his
falcon-headed coffin lid has been made during Osorkon IIs reign.
Tell el-Balamun burials
From the archaeological evidence it appears that Tomb 3 at Tell el-Balamun should
be dated to the reign of Osorkon I or some time later, and in default of any written
evidence nothing more can be said about the time the falcon-headed coffins belonging
to the burials 3ii and 3iii were manufactured.
M 13465
Dating the cartonnage head M 13465 is even harder, as there is no archaeological
context at all. Dodson is of opinion that, if it is a kingly piece, it must predate king
Pamiu, amongst the remains of whose presumed burial equipment in the Tanis tomb
NRT II two pairs of stone human eyes of different sizes were found, which had
probably belonged to his outer and the inner wooden coffin.45 From this Dodson
assumes that the avian head seems to have been abandoned at Tanis by the reign of the
latter, although it is possible that the older style may have continued somewhat longer
in the south.46 According to Spencer it appears to belong to a much later period and
to be unrelated to the burial customs of the Twenty-second Dynasty.47 John Taylor
is of the opinion that the Berlin cartonnage may be dated as well to the Libyan period

Dodson, CdE 63, 223 n.2.
G. Roulin, Les tombes royales de Tanis: Analyse du programme dcoratif, in P. Brissaud and C. Zivie-
Coche (eds), Tanis: Travaux rcents sur le tell San el-Hagar (1998), 217 n.159.
K. Jansen-Winkeln, Thronname und Begrbnis Takeloths I., VA 3 (1987), 2538.
Montet, Kmi 9, 504; J. Yoyotte, Des lions et des chats, RdE 39 (1988), 1669.
Dodson, Coffins and Related Material (forthcoming).
Spencer, Tell el-Balamun, 30.
78 gerard P. F. broekman JEA 95

as to the Ptolemaic or Roman periods. Having seen the colour photograph supplied
by Klaus Finneiser, as well as the black and white picture provided by Aidan Dodson,
he wrote:48
I still think that dating this piece is difficult. Its similarity to the cartonnage case and
silver coffin of Sheshonq (and others of the same type from Tanis, Tell Balamun and
Medinet Habu) inevitably leads one to suppose that the Berlin piece should belong to
the TIP as well. However, certain features still incline me to consider the Ptolemaic
Roman period as another possibility.
1. The orange-red colour of the background, which is quite well-attested in the Ptol
Roman era but difficult to parallel in the TIP.
2. The graphic style of the divine figures at the proper left sidethe baboon in the
barque, the ba-bird and the winged serpent all resemble examples of the PtolRoman
period. The placing of images of the ba and the barque at the side of the head, above
the shoulder, is equivocal. Solar and lunar barques appear in this position on carton-
nage cases as early as the reign of Osorkon I (Quibell, Ramesseum, pl. xvi) and ba-birds
can also be found in this area in the TIP, but both elements also occur on Roman period
shrouds (Bresciani, Il Voltro di Osiri, Lucca, 1996, figs 5, 9, 10, 12, 20). These shrouds
also often represent the deceased (as Osiris) holding the crook and flail, even when not
of royal status.
3. The manner of depicting the wig stripes is odd, in that the lines do not extend to
the ends of the lappets but form a pattern of concentric rectangles. This is very hard
to parallel, but what seems to be a related motif occurs on mummy-masks of the Ptole-
maicRoman period probably from Hawara; on these there is a pattern of concentric
rectangles at each side of the wig lappets (M. A. Stadler, gyptische Mumienmasken in
Wrzburg, Wiesbaden, 2004, Kat. 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12)the design is not exactly the same
as that of the Berlin cartonnage, but it should perhaps raise a note of caution about as-
signing it to the TIP. Note also that the collars of these Hawara masks are composed of
motifs which also have a resemblance to the collar rows of Berlin 13465.
After having seen the colour photograph of the cartonnage Dodson became more
doubtful that the Berlin piece really would fit into the pattern of the Twenty-third
Dynasty burials, and would now endorse Taylors comments.49
As the cartonnage mummy casing in all probability had been adopted in the course
of Osorkon Is reign, it appears from the above that M 13465 may be dated either
in the period from the second half of that reign until the reign of king Pamiu, or
in the PtolemaicRoman period. As noted by Taylor, to help decide the dating it
would be interesting to know more about the textile component of the mask, since
the type of weave might provide a clue, and also the composition of the pigments
used on the surface.50

The falcon head as a royal funerary attribute?

In the preliminary report on the excavations at Medinet Habu, Hlscher suggested

that the falcon head of Harsieses sarcophagus harmonised with the name Harsiese,

J. H. Taylor, personal communication (27 November 2008).
A. Dodson, personal communication (12 December 2008).
See n. 48 above.
2009 falcon-headed coffins 79
Horus, son of Isis. Later he changed his view, stating that certainly in these cases
the god-king Horus is implied and not, as with the falcon-headed mummies of the
Roman period, Sokar-Osiris.51 Jean Yoyotte, on the other hand, is of the opinion
that the falcon head identifies Shoshenq IIa with Sokar-Osiris,52 and in the view of
Ikram and Dodson the falcons head instead of a human one may reflect the kings
identification with Horus and/or the funerary god Sokar.53 Ascertaining that there
was nowhere on the coffin of ShoshenqIIa any sign of the ancient rishi pattern, this
motif being replaced by a falcon head, Ikram and Dodson consider it likely that the
disappearance of one avian feature, the rishi motif, coinciding so closely with the
appearance of a new one, the falcon head, is a redefinition of the kings posthumous
aerial role in a more explicit manner than had been represented by the, by that time,
wholly stylized rishi.54
Recently Kenneth Kitchen proposed a totally different explanation for the
occurrence of a falcon head on the coffins of Shoshenq IIa and Harsiese A, neither
of whom in his view was ever the sole ruler of Egypt:
Having each died without finally attaining the supreme rank and power of sole king-
regnant and then dying as one (but as a Horus who never reigned to die as a full Osiris),
they remained in their premature deaths each a Horus-in-waiting, even in death.
From this he assumes that they were in effect both buried as (prematurely) deceased
Horuses, not simply as humanoid incarnations of Osiris (like everybody else).55
Kitchens proposal is very original but faces several objections:
(1) It is grounded on the wrong supposition that falcon heads only occurred in the
burials of Shoshenq IIa and Harsiese A.
(2) There is no evidence that Shoshenq IIa was never the sole ruler of Egypt. The
Pasenhor genealogy does not give a decisive answer concerning this matter.
On the assumption that Shoshenq IIa was not identical with Shoshenq I,
he was to all probability a brother, or half-brother, of either Osorkon I or
Takeloth I. In this connection it should be noted that, as Eva Lange has
shown, a characteristic of the tribal nature of the Libyan rule, related to the
social equality of brothers within a lineage segment, is the principle of brother
succession having precedence over succession passing from father to son.56
(3) On his coffin as well as on his cartonnage Shoshenq IIa is entitled Osiris,
which means that he was buried as a humanoid incarnation of that god.
From an investigation of the funeral stelae of the Libyan period by Marc Loth, it
appears that from about the end of the first decade of the ninth century bc the image
of the god Osiris on such stelae was replaced by the picture of the falcon-headed god
Re-Harakhty. This deity was, however, mummiform and furnished with the attributes
Hlscher, The Excavation of Medinet Habu V, 10 n.46.
J. Yoyotte, Pharaons, guerriers libyens et grands prtres: La Troisime Priode Intermdiaire, in Tanis:
Lor des Pharaons, 67.
Ikram and Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt, 185.
Ikram and Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt, 235.
Kitchen, in Broekman, Demare, and Kaper (eds), The Libyan Period in Egypt, 190.
E. Lange, Legitimation und Herrschaft in der Libyerzeit: Eine neue Inschrift Osorkons I. aus Bubastis
(Tell Basta), ZS 135 (2008), 13141.
80 gerard P. F. broekman JEA 95

of Osiris, and was sometimes labelled Re-Harakhty-Atum, Re, or even Osiris.57 At

the Leiden conference, Jeffrey Spencer pointed to the remarkable coincidence of the
shift from Osiris to Re-Harakhty on the stelae with the appearance of falcon heads
replacing human faces on royal coffins.58 This might be a mere coincidence, as it
appears that all stelae investigated by Loth showing the falcon-headed Re-Harakhty
belonged to non-royals, whereas the falcon-headed coffins and cartonnages seem to
be restricted to royal burials.
However, it is equally possible that both phenomena have one common conceptual
basis, reflecting a general tendency in which Osiris was being replaced by the sun
god. This tendency is not only shown on wooden stelae but also appears on funerary
shrouds and in the opening scenes of funerary papyri.59 It is conceivable that the
falcon-headed Re-Harakhty in connection with royal burials was being associated
with the god-king Horus, with whom the deceased king was to be identified by his
falcon-headed coffin and/or cartonnage.60
This may account for the burials of Shoshenq IIa, Osorkon II, and Harsiese (A),
and possibly also for the owner of the head of the cartonnage M 13465, showing
some royal features.61 But what about the occupants of the burial chambers 3ii and
3iii at Tell el-Balamun? Although they were furnished with falcon-headed coffins,
it seems quite improbable that they were kings. Nevertheless, as they were buried
on a temple precinct cemetery, comparable with the royal burial places in Tanis and
Medinet Habu, they must have possessed a rather high social standing, and it is not
impossible that they were related to the Twenty-second Dynasty royal family.62 It
is noticeable, however, that in the royal cemetery of Tanis and the precinct of the
Medinet Habu temple only the burials of the kings themselves were found equipped
with falcon-headed mummy-casings, whereas in the burials of Osorkon IIs sons
Harnakht, buried in his fathers tomb, and Shoshenq D, High Priest of Ptah, buried
in the precinct of the temple of Ptah in Memphis, no traces of falcon heads were
found.63 As even the sons of king Osorkon abstained from the use of those avian
attributes, the occurrence of falcon-headed coffins in the burials of more remote
royal kinsman (or even commoners) is quite remarkable, to say the least, and it is not
unlikely that this is an instance of usurpation, as occurred more than once during the
Libyan period.64
Usurpation of royal attributes by non-royals may be understandable in the light
of the tribal character of the social hierarchy during the Libyan Period, as a result

M. Loth, Thebanische Totenstelen der Dritten Zwischenzeit: Ikonographie und Datierung, in Broekman,
Demare, and Kaper (eds), The Libyan Period in Egypt, 22430.
Recorded in Discussions, in Broekman, Demare, and Kaper (eds), The Libyan Period in Egypt, 4423.
See preceding note.
As demonstrated at the end of the second section of the current article, this identification with the god-king
Horus did not prevent the deceased king being identified with Osiris as well.
According to Ikram and Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt, 185, this piece might have belonged to
Spencer, Tell el-Balamun, 30.
To the remains of Prince Harnakhts burial belonged two bronze human eyes with adhering pieces of gold
leaf, indicating that his cartonnage was human headed: Montet, Kmi 9, 26 n.1.
See R. van Walsem, The Coffin of Djedmonthuiufankh in the National Museum of Antiquities at Leiden
(Leiden, 1997), 3501 discussing purely divine/royal attributes in the hands of private individuals Besides the
usurpation of royal themes, royal attributes were also blatantly integrated into the private sphere.
2009 falcon-headed coffins 81
of which the Libyan ruling class attached greater value to tribal lineage titles, such
as (great) chiefs of the Ma,65 rather than to Egyptian ones; for the members of the
Libyan upper class, King of Upper and Lower Egypt was simply a title,66 though an
imposing one. Consequently, in their conception, royal attributes did not in themselves
represent exclusive supreme power. That could easily lead to the appropriation of
royal attributes by royal kinsman and other high-ranking individuals, especially in a
fairly distant location like Tell el-Balamun.


It may be stated that none of the known funerals containing falcon-headed mummy
cases is from a date preceding the reign of Osorkon I, whereas two of the royal burials
involved can be dated with certainty to the reign of Osorkon II, as can a third one, the
burial of Shoshenq IIa, with some reservations. Therefore it is not impossible that
the occurrence of such royal mummy casings was confined to the reign of OsorkonII,
or survived it for only a short time. In either case, it may be assumed that the falcon
head in royal burials (in the north of Egypt) fell into disuse before the reign of Pamiu,
whereas in burials of non-royal individuals falcon-headed coffins might have occurred
for somewhat longer, though there is no evidence to decide on this.
Notwithstanding the occurrence of falcon-headed coffins and cartonnages in burials
of non-royals in the Libyan period, it may be stated that they were essentially royal
attributes, emphasising the solar aspect of Osiris-Re, while at the same time defining
the kings posthumous aerial role as the incarnation of the king-god Horus.


After this paper went to press I visited the New Egyptian Museum on the Museums-
insel in Berlin and on that occasion the curator Klaus Finneiser most kindly showed
me the head of the cartonnage M 13465 in the coffin depot of the museum. That
gave me the opportunity to view parts of the decoration which are not visible on any
of the available photographs of the piece. On the back of the head a falcon is shown
from behind with the head, adorned with a sun disk, turned to the right; from behind
each of the outstretched wings a ceremonial fan sticks out and in its talons on both
sides of the tail shen-rings are held. To the right of this falconon the proper right
side of the cartonnagea barque is shown with a child god squatting on a lotus
flower inside a sun disk; in front of the barque an ankh-sign is depicted. This barque
and ankh-sign constitute the counterpart of a similar motif on the proper left side:
the barque with a baboon inside the moon disk with crescent (not a sun disk) and
the ankh-sign in front of it, as referred to in the paper. It may be assumed that the
foremost part of the right-hand side (the part before the ankh-sign), which is now
completely denuded, had been decorated in a similar way as its left-hand counterpart
(the ba-bird and winged uraeus).

R. K. Ritner, Fragmentation and Re-integration in the Third Intermediate Period, in Broekman, Demare,
and Kaper (eds), The Libyan Period in Egypt, 336.
M. A. Leahy, The Libyan Period in Egypt: An Essay in Interpretation, Libyan Studies 16 (1985), 59.