The work I chose to analyze was from a wall fragment from the tomb of Ameneemhet and wife Hemet called Mummy Case of Paankhenamun, found in the Art Institute of Chicago. The case of the Mummy Paankhenamun is one of the most exquisite pieces of art produced by the Egyptian people during the time before Christ. This coffin belonged to a man named Paankhenamun, which translates to "He Lives for Amun" (Hornblower & Spawforth 74). Paankhenamun was the doorkeeper of the temple of the god Amun, a position he inherited from his father. Interestingly, X-rays reveal that the mummy case of Paankhenamun does in fact contain a mummy inside dating back to the years of c. 945 - 715 B.
C. The practice of mummification was the Egyptian people's way of preserving the spirits of the Gods/Goddesses and royalty. The idea was that when these beings came back to life, they would be preserved and well prepared for their next lives. By the time of the New Kingdom, the Egyptians already had developed techniques of mummification, which were done under a priest's supervision (Stockstad 114), and since Paankhenamun was the priest of Amun, he was most likely was in charge of these procedures. In the ancient Egyptian culture, the belief was that there was a life force and spirit inside of the body, known as the 'Ka'. Therefore, mummification was performed as a ritual to preserve the physical features of the body as well as to protect its inner spirit, mainly to ensure that the 'Ka' could recognize the body where it may dwell in the eternal life.
Thus, the funerary psychology of ancient Egyptians was that death did not bring an end to living, but instead was only an escape from the physical human life and a gateway to immortal being. Due to the fact that a being's life span was short in ancient times, people's main hopes rested in their afterlives, where they would be with the gods (Stockstad 121). Aside from being a priest, the importance of Paankhenamun's position was due to his association with the Amun, who was a significant god of Egyptian Thebes. Viewed as chief divinity, Amun was often equated with the famous god Zeus and he even had his own worshiping cult (Freedman, 322). Moreover, Amun was originally one of the eight gods of Hermopolis, known as the god of air. However, at the time of the New Kingdom, this chief god of Thebes acquired more roles as the god of fertility and warfare, which also related to the country's great political and economic strength during that time period (Hornblower & Spawforth 74-5).
Nonetheless, during the 12 th Dynasty, there was a temple built for Amun's worship and toward the end of the 18 th Dynasty, Amun's status increased even more and he became known as .".. the great royal deity who was "Father of the Gods" and ruler of Egypt and the people of its empire (Rosalie 104). The Mummy Case of Paankhenamun was composed of a substance known as car tonnage, which was usually made out of linen or papyrus strips bound together with a sticky substance in order to form a flexible shell. After mummification, the wrapped body was placed in the coffin-case through the back, which was then laced up and a footboard was added for support.
Only then the case was ready to be painted. Such car tonnage cases as the case of Paankhenamun were normally placed inside one or more layered wooden coffins and were also decorated. The innermost coffin was always in the shape of the mummy and due to its utmost importance, it was the case with the richest decorations. The amazing detail is still a wonder to many historians and anthropologists (Stockstad 120-3). Similarly to other Egyptian funerary rituals, the case of Paankhenamun was also buried inside of a "sarcophagus" case, a huge stone case for the coffin, and then inside of a decorated tomb, which most likely contained his most valuable personal belongings and religious symbols. The decorations often consisted of images and symbols that reflected the mummy's desired physical appearance in the afterlife.
These kind of images usually depicted features such as dark wide eyes, .".. full lives and thin-bridges nose hint... ." (Stockstad 122). In comparison to other Egyptian mummy cases, such as King Tutankhamun's case, the Mummy Case of Paankhenamun's decorations were also very naturalistic since they showed actual life events associated to him. In addition to that, the vividness of the perfected pictures on the case also made it seem seemed quite idealized.
A good example was the image of an eagle, in the middle of the case, which seems to have been painted carefully and with much detail, again looking close to perfect. The dark brown strokes that mark each particular line of the eagle's wing make this part of the display seem to be well preserved (Stockstad 95-114, 121-2)... The Mummy Case of Paankhenamun was covered with paints that were probably pigmented from mixed minerals and other substances, as they clearly did not have today's resources. The paints seemed to have been applied carefully as one could see the colors that were set in a pattern.
Exquisite, fine rich colors displayed black, yellow, red, brown, and in particularly gold. The gold color was used thoroughly, but due to ageing, it seemed to have changed shades and turned into brownish color (Freeman 321-2). An example of that could be illustrated by the face, which has a golden touch to it but is seen to be roughly all turning brown. These decorative features were also seen on other mummy coffins, such as on the coffin of Tutankhamun, found on the Valley of the Kings in Dynasty 18 (Stockstad 120-2). Tutankhamun's case also demonstrated similar golden tones being used, which as a result of aging varnished and fainted in some areas to a darker golden- brownish and yellowish shade (Stockstad 123, 125). The Mummy Case of Paankhenamun has great significant in that it provides us with very fundamental evidence from ancient history.
It does not only exhibit a complex form of art, but it also demonstrates the religious practices of ancient Egyptians in association with their beliefs in life after death, as well as their great fascination with immortality. It not only teaches us about the great science of mummification, but it also provides us all with the incredible opportunity to learn about the life of an ancient person.