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Museum piece #21

 

E.6319 (Source: The Global Egyptian Museum).

This week’s object is E.6319, a hypocephalus.

Hypocephali were part of the mummy adornments. The name literally translates as ‘that which is below the head’. Often made of cloth or papyrus, these disc shaped items were placed beneath the head of the mummy. They were adorned with magical formulae and depictions which were intended to aid the passage of the deceased into the afterlife and to protect them from the dangers that they were required to pass.

The four headed bull worshipped by baboons in the centre represents Amun-Re. Other illustrations include the solar barque and the Four Sons of Horus. 

The text is taken from Chapter 162 the Book of the Dead and is a spell to warm the head. The spell often reads:

Cause to come into being a flame beneath his head for he is the soul of that corpse which rests in Heliopolis, Atum is his name.

The earliest examples date to the Late Period.

Bibliography: 

The Global Egyptian Museum – Hypocephalus: http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/record.aspx?id=1014

The British Museum – Hypocephalus of the temple musician Neshorpakhered: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/h/hypocephalus_of_the_temple_mus.aspx

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