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Mummy Case Of Lady Teshat


Mummy Case Of Lady Teshat
Mummy Case Of Lady Teshat
1085-710 B.C. (21st-24th Dynasty)
Painted and varnished linen
The William Hood Dunwoody Fund

Key Ideas
Discussion Questions

The kind and gentle god Osiris ruled on earth for many years and brought the gifts of civilization and agriculture to Egypt. He let his wife-sister, Isis (EYE-sus), rule Egypt for a short time while he traveled the world to spread law and order and to teach people farming skills. His brother, Seth, became jealous of Osiris's popularity and power. So, upon Osiris's return, Seth murdered him, put his body in an elaborate cedar coffin, and cast it into the Nile River.

Statuette of Isis, Egypt, 1st century A.D., Bronze, 9 inches high, The Morse Foundation

Statuette of Isis
1st century A.D.
The Morse Foundation

The coffin washed ashore at Byblos (BIB-lus) in Lebanon, where a tamarisk tree arose and encased it. Impressed by the tree's tremendous size, the king of Byblos had it cut down and placed as a pillar in his main hall. Isis searched for her husband's body and eventually located it in the pillar in the king's hall. She then won permission to bring his remains back to Egypt. Seth, furious that his brother's remains had been retrieved, cut Osiris's body into pieces and scattered them throughout the land.

Isis set out again to find her husband, a much more difficult task this time. Wherever she found a part of his body, she created a wax duplicate of the part; she presented the wax part to the local priest and demanded that it be placed in a temple and worshiped, so that her husband's memory would be preserved.

Detail of Osiris from the Mummy Case of Lady Teshat

Detail of Osiris from the Mummy Case of Lady Teshat

When nearly all the body parts were gathered, Isis used her own great magic, and the help of several other gods, to put Osiris back together. They preserved his body and wrapped it in linen bandages, creating the first mummy and establishing the funereal ritual for all subsequent burials of important people. Magically, Isis breathed life back into Osiris and the god-king rose from the dead. But instead of living on earth, Osiris chose to rule in the Underworld. He left earthly rule up to his son, Horus (HOR-us).

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