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The lid and two end panels from a coffin of the official Nakht

Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11-Dynasty 12, 2100-1780 B.C.

Wood, painted, probably from Asyut

The very fragile nature of this box-shaped coffin prevented the side panels from being transported to America for exhibition. Nevertheless, its two end panels depict a chest with a row of vessels which it was believed to contain and a headrest below. The second panel contains a painting of a granary, below which are depicted two pairs of sandals. The interest in this coffin, however, resides in the underside of its lid. This is an ancient Egyptian star chart that depicts the sequential series of their risings in the night sky. By means of such careful observations the ancient Egyptian astronomers were able to calculate the length of the night into equal periods of about 40 modern minutes each.

Photo courtesy of Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum

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