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Body, Cosmos and Eternity: New Trends of Research on Iconography and Symbolism of Ancient Egyptian Coffins
edited by Rogério Sousa. viii+203 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 107 2014 Archaeopress Egyptology 3. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784910020. Epublication ISBN 9781784910037.
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This volume, edited by Rogério Sousa, is part of the scholarly ferment which has wheeled around the subject of ‘coffin’ during the last twenty years. Its magic and religious evaluation identifies it from time to time as body container, but at the same time substitute body for the deceased, a maternal womb in which the regeneration will occur, a microcosm, tomb, funerary temple, as well as a conduit to the dead, a powerful tool activated by means of the Opening of the Mouth ritual. -From the Foreword, by Alessia Amenta

In February 2013, the Symposium Body, Cosmos and Eternity: the Symbolism of Coffins in Ancient Egypt convened at the historical building of the University of Porto to debate conceptual frameworks underlying the contemporary study of Egyptian coffins. Rising from the close association with the depiction of the mummified body, the anthropoid coffins soon absorbed a rich mythological imaginary related to the constellation of Nut, the mother goddess of the sky supposed to give birth to Osiris, and evolved continuously, integrating larger and more complex sets of beliefs, mirroring the increasingly bolder use of coffins in the funerary rituals. It was this complex set of beliefs involving the coffin that we proposed to explore in this series of symposia. Following our original purpose, the studies presented in this volume display an excellent overview on the new trends of research on coffin studies, with diverse contributions concerned either with symbolism or social significance of coffins, museums´ collections or archaeological finds. These studies superbly showcase the richness of coffins as documental sources for the study of Egyptian religion, economy and society.

'The individual contributions are well structured and clearly laid out. A particular highlight is the extensive photographic material... In summary, the present volume is an appealing and successful publication. It is highly recommended for professional scientists, but is likely to be difficult for the Egypt-interested layman.' (Translated from the German review: von Manuela Gander M.A., Berlin, http://www.antikewelt.de)




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