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First British Museum Mummy and coffin

First British Museum Mummy and coffin

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First British Museum Mummy and coffin

Hand coloured engraving by George Vertue 1724 for the London Society of Antiquaries. It shows the mummified body in cartonage and hieroglyphic script on a Sarcophagus owned by William Lethieullier. This came to England in 1722 (probably the first or second to arrive), and a paper on it was written by Alexander Gordon in 1727. When Lethieullier died in 1756 he bequeathed this coffin, and the rest of his Egyptian collection of antiquities, to the British Museum. It was the first mummy and coffin the British Museum owned - and remains one of its most enduringly popular exhibits. The body is named as Irtyru on the sarcophagus. On the Sarcophagus, below the sky goddess Nut, is a scene where the deceased man is being judged by Osiris and Thoth

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Media ID 6317969

© This image is Paul D. Stewart 2009. Do not reproduce without permission of the photographer at

18th Century British Museum Coffin Collection Death Egypt Egyptian Egyptology Gift Mummified Mummy Museum Sarcophagus Hans Sloane Heiroglyphics Mummification Rosetta Stone Society Of Antiquaries

This print captures the historical significance and artistic beauty of the first British Museum mummy and coffin. Created by George Vertue in 1724, this hand-coloured engraving was commissioned by the London Society of Antiquaries to document a remarkable discovery. The mummified body, encased in ornate cartonage adorned with intricate hieroglyphic script, rests upon a sarcophagus owned by William Lethieullier. Arriving in England in 1722, this mummy and its accompanying sarcophagus were among the earliest to be brought to the country. Alexander Gordon later wrote a paper on it in 1727, solidifying its importance within Egyptology. Following Lethieullier's passing in 1756, he generously bequeathed both the coffin and his entire Egyptian collection of antiquities to the British Museum. Named Irtyru on the sarcophagus itself, this ancient individual is depicted undergoing judgment by Osiris and Thoth below Nut, the sky goddess. This scene adds an intriguing layer of symbolism to an already mesmerizing artwork. Over time, this mummy and coffin have become iconic exhibits at the British Museum - beloved for their historical significance as well as their enduring popularity among visitors. As part of Paul D. Stewart's collection from Science Photo Library, this print serves as a testament to humanity's fascination with death rituals and our ongoing quest for knowledge about ancient civilizations like Egypt.

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