Egypto-Philistine Terracotta Anthropoid Sarcophagus Lid

SKU X.0382

1400 BC to 1300 BC


24.4″ (62.0cm) high





Gallery Location



Throughout the Bronze Age, Egyptian culture strongly influenced the peoples of ancient Palestine, including the Philistines. Among the many customs borrowed from Egypt was the tradition of burying deceased individuals of high rank in coffins modeled after the human form. Most probably, those interred in this fashion were Philistine aristocrats who emulated Egyptian ways, though it is possible that they might have been provincial officials of the Egyptian kingdom. This rare and magnificent terracotta mask, a fragment of a full-sized casket, depicts the face of man who stares back at us from beyond the grave. Although his features reveal the influence of Egyptian mummy cases, the high headdress suggests that this coffin is of Philistine origin. The modeling and painting are lively and quick, a local variation of the more refined Egyptian style. This bold expressionism gives the fragment a vital presence. Though the portrait is hardly an accurate one, it conveys the energy of a real human life, an energy still felt thousand of years later.

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