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Corn Mummy

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt in about 450 B.C.E. and in his writings associated animal mummies with pilgrimages and festivals in which kings performed rituals. The best archaeological evidence for ritual objects created for Egyptian festivals are, however, so-called corn mummies like this one.

Images of Osiris made of grain, wax, and earth contained in wooden coffins were created in connection with such annual festivals as Khoiak, which linked the god Osiris to the fertility of the earth. The grain sprouted from the earth, symbolizing renewal, rejuvenation, and the cycle of life and death.
MEDIUM Wood, clay, sand, corn, linen
  • Place Made: Akhmim, Egypt
  • DATES 305 B.C.E.-150 C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period to early Roman Period
    DIMENSIONS 5 3/4 x 6 7/8 x 19 11/16 in. (14.6 x 17.5 x 50 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS (1) Hail, Sokar-Osiris, Greetings Re-Hor-Akhty and Khepri who created himself. How beautiful is your rising on the horizon (2) when you illuminate the two lands with your rays! (All) the gods rejoice when they see Horus, King of The Sky, the Wnwt-cobra on your head, (3) the Crown of Upper Egypt and the Crown of Lower Egypt on your brow. (4) They have made their seat, while Thoth abides on the prow (of the sun boat.) (5) Thoth abides in order to see the beauty of this, your image. I have come before you and I am with you. * Text on Corn Mummy translated by Edward Bleiberg and Paul O'Rourke
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2007.1a-c
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Caren Golden in memory of Eleanor L. Golden
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The object consists of a wooden coffin in the shape of a falcon. The upper section of the wooden coffin (a) is painted with red, blue, yellow and black pigments over a white gesso ground. The bottom section of the coffin (b) has a white gesso layer overall. Inside is a "corn mummy" (c), a mixture or inorganic and organic materials wrapped in finely woven linen. (a) Lid of coffin, (b) base of coffin, (c) mummy.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Corn Mummy, 305 B.C.E.-150 C.E. Wood, clay, sand, corn, linen, 5 3/4 x 6 7/8 x 19 11/16 in. (14.6 x 17.5 x 50 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Caren Golden in memory of Eleanor L. Golden, 2007.1a-c. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum (Gavin Ashworth,er), 2007.1a-c_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 2007.1a-c_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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