A NOTE ON COFFIN DECORATION AT ASYUT
It is a great pleasure to offer this article in honor of Donald B. Redford's birthday. As a teacher and scholar Redford has always emphasized the vital connection between text and archaeological context, a lesson I hope that I have applied here. In 1995 the Brooklyn Museum of Art acquired the back2 panel of a Middle Kingdom coffin (accession number 1995.112) dating to either late Dynasty 11 or early Dynasty 12.3 The high quality of the painting and hieroglyphs on this panel demonstrate that a skilled artist/scribe decorated it. Yet the panel exhibits at least two unusual features which have previously been called scribe's errors. The question of confusing the male and female second person singular suffix will be considered elsewhere. This brief note addresses the reversal of east and west on this coffin panel.
This coffin panel was first described by Schoske and Wildung.4 They identified the coffin's origin, basing their conclusion on Anubis' epithet,
1 “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet/Till Earth and
Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;” Rudyard Kipling “The Ballad
of East and West.”
2 West, right, and back side of the coffin are normally considered synonyms. It is
often difficult in Egyptian to differentiate whether the hieroglyphic sign intends the
west or the right side, since the same sign is used to write both these words. See Kurt
Sethe, “Die Ägyptischen Ausdrücke fur rechts und links und the Hieroglyphenzeichen
fur Westen und Osten,” Nachrkhten der K. Geselkchaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (Phil-
Hist. Klasse) (1922) 197–242.
3 The difficulties in dating coffins from Asyut are summarized in Günther Lapp,
Typologie der Särge und Sargkammem von der 6. bis 13. Dynastk (Studien zur Archäologie
und Geschichte Altägyptens 7; Heidelberg, 1993) 145.
4 Sylvia Schoske and Dietrich Wildung, Entdechingen: Ägyptische Kunst in SMdeutsch-
land (Munich, 1985) 31.