Isis and Nephthys on the feet of Artemidora.

Isis and Nephthys are the most preeminent figures on the decoration over the mummy of Artemidora. Over the wrappings of the feet, two appliqués of gold depicted these two goddesses

Isis and Nephthys on the feet of the mummy of Artemidora. Photo metmuseum.org
Isis and Nephthys on the feet of the mummy of Artemidora. Photo: www.metmuseum.org

Osirian and Solar features.

Isis and Nephtys are not identified with any inscription but we know their identity because they appear in a typical mourning position: kneeling and covering their eyes with one hand. With this gesture, the mourners replied the darkness in which the dead was lost. In funerals of Ancient Egypt common mourners also covered their faces with their (nwn gesture) to reproduce the deceased’s blindness.

On the other hand, the two goddesses are wearing the solar disk over their heads. In addition, on the upper art of the composition a winged solar disk crowns the scene.

Such a simple composition with solar and Osirian elements is plenty is significance.

Isis and Nephthys into the solar iconography.

The two mourners of Osiris were crucial for the concept of resurrection. In origin, this idea belonged just to the Myth of Osiris, but later on it was also transferred to the solar religion. These two goddesses therefore took also part in the rebirth of the solar disk.

Isis and Nephthys as kites flaning the solar disk. Ceiling of the entrance tomb of Nefertari. Ancient Egypt. osirisnet
Isis and Nephthys as kites flaning the solar disk. Ceiling of the entrance tomb of Nefertari. Photo: www.osirisnet.net

For that reason, it was so common from the New Kingdom to find images, which combined the solar disk with the figures of Isis and Nephthys:

From the XIX Dynasty, the funerary iconography included scenes, which combined the solar disk with the figures of Isis and Nephthys: As we see here in the feet of the mummy of Artemidora.

Artemidora as a part of the composition.

Why is this scene at the feet of Artemidora? The anthropoid coffin in Ancient Egypt gave to the Egyptian artist a new space for the iconography.

The feet space of the cover in the anthropoid coffin seems to introduce in Egyptian art the concept of the observer. During the Middle Kingdom and XVIII Dynasty, this part of the coffin remained with no icons. From the XXI Dynasty became common to include also in that way in this part of the anthropoid coffin the image of the two professional mourners upside down.

Coffin of Henettawy. XXI Dynasty. Ancient Egypt. metmuseum.org
Coffin of Henettawy with Isis and Nephthys at the feet of the cover. XXI Dynasty. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.

The reason for that could be to consider the mummy an observer of the scene. Artemidora, would be facing his feet and watching the images depicted on them. Possibly the icons on that part of the corpse were images to benefit the resurrection: solar birth, the two professional mourners, Udjat eyes…

Isis and Nephthys on the feet of the mummy of Artemidora. Photo metmuseum.org
Artemidora could be an observer of her own resurrection made by Isis and Nephthys. Photo: www.metmuseum.org

Suming up, the feet of the mummy of Artemidora contained a very short decoration (Isis and Nephthys with a solar connotation) in a very intentioned place (where Artemidora could observe). That means, a concise iconography, but very effective.

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