ARCE Northern CA: Ancient Egyptian Yellow Coffins from Thebes: A Holistic Approach to Studying Complex Objects

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Presented by: Dr. Stefania Mainieri

  • 3:00 PM PTNorthern California
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Lecture Information

The yellow coffins are a specific class of artefact that appeared in Thebes at the end of the New Kingdom and were used for more than a millennium peaking during the 21st Dynasty (1069-945 BCE ca.). Called yellow for the colour of the background, they are anthropoid in shape, with rich textual and iconographical apparatus and with a detailed rendering of the human face and hands. Even though this complex class of materials has been (and is still) intensively studied, a specific and peculiar element of them has never been considered before: the geometry and the volume of the objects which render the human forms. A new project is focusing on these aspects through the help of new technologies-photogrammetry and 3D models-which allow us to switch off digitally the paint and observe in a better way the geometrical elements. The way to render the anthropoid forms (ie mouth, ears, forearms, or hands) could indicate, in fact, specific productions corroborating also a posited common origin of the material as well as hints at the possibility of identifying craftspeople operating in workshops. The used approach in the project combines digital technologies and traditional approaches of analyses with the aim to study in a holistic way this complex class of materials. 

Speaker Bio

Dr. Stefania Mainieri completed her PhD research at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” (UniOr) on the Egyptian Collection of the Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN). She was also one of the curators of the new permanent exhibition of the Egyptian Collection at the MANN, which opened in 2016. 

Specializing in museography, Egyptian funerary archaeology and New Technologies, she is presently a Researcher at the Museo Egizio di Torino and Visiting Associate Researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles for a research project on yellow coffins named Faces Revealed.