Sunday, October 26, 2014

Our Treasures Abroad, London: 3,000-year-old Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus that once held a mummy discovered in living room of Essex pensioner

An Egyptian sarcophagus that once held the mummified body of a woman 3,000 years ago has been found on display in a pensioner's living room.
The 3,000 year old sarcophagus was found during a routine 
search to value items at a pensioner's Essex home
Auctioneers discovered the wooden artefact during a routine valuation of items in the house in Essex owned by a woman who had recently moved into a nursing home. But they did not expect to come across the 6ft tall sarcophagus, which has carved hieroglyphics inside.  It is thought to have once housed a noblewoman and to have been placed in an Egyptian burial chamber in 1,000 BC.

Mark Stacey, the expert from Reeman Dansie auctioneers in Colchester, Essex, who discovered the sarcophagus said: 'The hairs went up on the back of my neck when I walked into the drawing room. It stood out like a sore thumb.

'It was stood up against a wall and was being used as a decorative item. It's the sort of thing you would expect to see in the home of the Addams Family. 'It is certainly the oldest item I have been asked to look at in my career and probably one of the most exciting.

'It would have been used as a coffin for a mummified woman and placed in something like a burial chamber. 'She would have been a noble person but nothing like a pharaoh.' The once colourful exterior of the coffin is faded but there are clear facial features that have been carved out of the wood. Experts believe the face was then covered in a type of plaster and painted.

It is believed to have been given to the woman, who has not been identified, about 60 years ago and is likely to have been purchased by a museum that closed down.

The find comes as an ancient 2,300-year-old Egyptian coffin sold for £12,000 last month after it was found in a house in Bradwell-on-sea in Essex.  It was sold despite Egyptian officials tried to block the sale suggesting it had been illegally removed from Egypt.

Gina Vince (left) is a cataloguer at Reeman Dansie Auction 
House that will sell the ancient sarcophagus (right)
The coffin also had a painted face and hieroglyphics and was found standing upright in a room only accessible through a hole an outside wall. The latest sarcophagus was among a number of Egyptian things in the house, but was the oldest one found by auctioneers.

Little is known about its history but it is thought the coffin was brought over from Egypt following the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century.

James Grinter, managing director of Reeman Dansie, said: 'In the 19th Century it was very common for people to collect ancient Egyptian objects. The fascination began after Napoleon invaded Egypt around 1800.

'British people were inspired and many items ended up being brought back. People used to have parties where they would unwrap mummies for entertainment. 'The mummy that was once inside this coffin is long gone but the coffin itself has survived. Somehow it found its way into a museum.

He added: 'We often come across small ancient Egyptian items but coffins are extremely rare to find in private hands - we weren't expecting it at all. 'It's quite an eerie thing but absolutely stunning - it takes your breath away. The sarcophagus is tipped to sell for £6,000 at the auction being held on November 24.
Ancient Egyptian coffin lid sold for £12,000 - despite Cairo officials attempting toblock auction

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.