Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Alabaster Sarcophagus

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sarcophagus of Seti I
Sarcophagus at British Museum
Belzoni Chamber
Loretta reports:

During a trip to London a few years ago, I had, among other authorial/Nerdy History Girls thrills, a chance to see the famous alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I,
in Sir John Soane’s Museum.

As mentioned in Lord Perfect, this sarcophagus, which Giovanni Belzoni found and sent back to England, languished in the British Museum for some time, precisely because of the item’s “pecuniary value” being so high.

 As you read the excerpt with its (to us) odd theories, please bear in mind that at the time, nobody could read hieroglyphs. The names antiquities scholars used for Egyptian kings (like Psammis) were the names ancient Greek and Latin authors had given them. Most educated gentlemen were familiar with these authors to a degree we might find hard to imagine.

Most educated gentlemen would have been able to read Greek and Latin. Many were fluent in Hebrew and other ancient languages, as well as modern languages like French and German. Their theories were based on their interpretations of classical works as well as the latest research. Their extensive linguistic expertise did pay off when they finally had a key to interpreting the strange Egyptian symbols, signs, and shorthand.

Text excerpt from The Philosophical Magazine and Journal, Volume 58, 1821

Images: Sarcophagus from 1905 General Description of Sir John Soane's Museum.
Belzoni chamber from 1835 Description of the house and museum on the north side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, the residence of Sir John Soane.


Sarah said...

And unfortunately on the illustration the hieroglyphs are not represented well enough to read. [some of us have esoteric hobbies]
One thing it WILL say is something along the lines of 'in the name of Wennenfer [Osiris] the mighty, a voice-offering to the spirit of Seti, the beloved god, pharaoh, for thousands bread, beer, onions, meat, linen and alabaster'

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