Ancient Egyptian Burial Containers



The project is supported by the Czech Science Foundation, No. 23-04989S


The aim of the project GAČR no. 23-04989S is to scrutinize all types of burial containers from the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period (stone, wood, reed and pottery) from localities all over Egypt. The data corpus of all available finds, collected in the freely accessible database, will serve as a basis for establishing an overall typology that is noticeably missing. Roughly, the studied corpus comprises 300 wooden coffins, 250 stone sarcophagi, 30 reed coffins and 60 ceramic coffins. The main analytical part lies in tracing the development of the containers and in the reconstruction of the entire process from the origin of a particular burial container to its use and possible reuse. The intention is to trace the whole scale of activities including material acquisition, its transport, methods of manufacture, applied decorative techniques as well as the final burial installation. The social, ritual and economic implications that encompass the production (e.g. religious significance of different materials, questions of specialised workshops or foreign trade with precious materials) will also be addressed. The project will investigate three main research questions:

  1. Burial container production: The processes that are related to the container manufacture will be evaluated, assessing each individual material separately. The following issues will be addressed: acquisition of raw material, craftsmen, the question of specialised workshops and a domestic production, decorative patterns and their regional diversity.
  2. Socio-economic implications of container production: The role of the social status of the container owners in the choice of material will be examined. Subsequently, the question of the extent of social dynamics and the economic power regarding the acquisition of materials from distant regions (e.g. cedar wood from Libanon) will be studied. Equally important is the phenomenon of a potential king’s influence in this process. On selected material, the distribution patterns of the burial containers will be investigated within particular households in the central and provincial necropoleis.
  3. Religious aspects: The third research field will investigate not only the influence of religious notions on the choice of particular materials, the question how and with what delay religious changes were reflected in contemporaneous evidence (e.g. the evolution of solar notions or the emergence of Osiris cult); their impact on the application of the decorative motifs, selected colour spectrum and offering formulae, but also the evolution of the prophylactic processes used on the containers.













Marie Peterková Hlouchová is a postdoctoral researcher in the KREAS (Creativity and adaptability as conditions for the success of Europe in an interrelated world), Faculty of Arts, Charles University, project, and a researcher at the Czech Institute of Egyptology FA CU, and also the executive editor of the journal Prague Egyptological Studies. She graduated in Egyptology and History (M.A. programme) at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, where she also finished the doctoral study programme. Since the year 2014, she has attended a number of inland as well as external international conferences, and she also co-organized the conference Current Research in Egyptology in Prague (2018). Between 2018 and 2021, she was a member and the chair of the Permanent Committee of the Current Research in Egyptology conferences. Moreover, she has experience in field excavations from Egypt and Sudan. She focuses on the Old Kingdom religion and wooden coffins, as well as on the wooden coffins from the First Millennium BC found at Abusir.

Between 2017–2019, she participated in the project “The Rise and Development of the Solar Cult and Architecture in Third Millennium BC Egypt” (GA ČR, reg. no. 17-10799S). In 2013, she obtained an internal research grant of the FA CU: “Božstva se slunečními aspekty v době Staré říše/The gods with solar aspects during the Old Kingdom”.

In this project, she is the principal investigator and focuses on the wooden coffins and their socio-economic implications and on the religious significance of the burial containers.


Věra Nováková is a Ph.D. candidate at the CIE FA CU working in the archive of the CIE. Her thesis deals with the development of the Egyptian household during the Old Kingdom. Her previous research interest concerns ancient Egyptian stone sarcophagi and canopic jars of the Third Millennium BC, with a focus on their overall chronological development during the Old Kingdom and socio-economic importance. Together with Martina Bardoňová, she obtained a research grant for “Patronát jako základ společenské struktury a hospodářských vztahů Staré a Střední říše?/Did patronage play an important role in the ancient Egyptian social structure and economic relations (Old Kingdom – end of the Middle Kingdom)?” (GAUK 114815), and she also participated in GA ČR, No. 16-07210S: “Complex network methods applied to ancient Egypt data in the Old Kingdom (2700–2180 BC)”. Since 2018, she has participated in the archaeological excavations in Egypt. She also co-organized the conference Current Research in Egyptology in Prague (2018).

Her role in the project is to focus on the stone sarcophagi, reed coffins, socio-economic networks of the containers’ owners/producers and the distribution within selected households in the centre and provinces.


Gersande Eschenbrenner Diemer specialises in wood and its economic, artistic and social networks in ancient Egypt. Formerly, she was Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow at University College London (2016–2018), a research associate at the ArScAN laboratory (CNRS-UMR 7041), a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jaén. She is currently a member of the MORTEXVAR project directed by Carlos Gracia Zamacona (University of Alcalá de Henares) and member of the RIIPOA Network ( as coordinator of the axis dedicated to materiality. Combining knowledge of Egyptology and Archaeobotany, she collaborates as wood specialists with several international archaeological missions in Egypt: Qubbet el-Hawa (Qubbet el-Hawa Project, University of Jaén), Elephantine (Swiss Institute in Cairo), Deir el-Medina (French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo = IFAO), where she leads a team of researchers specialised in the study of wooden furniture, and the Royal Necropolis of the Western Wadis (University of Cambridge). She was principal investigator of two projects (2016–2019) funded by the European Commission and IFAO. She is currently principal investigator of one research program at IFAO in collaboration with several international scientific partners (Museo Egizio, Turin, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, University College of London, University of Pisa;

In the project, she will concentrate on the wood analysis, technological aspects and prophylactic aspects of wooden coffins.


Dominika Uhrová is a Ph.D. candidate of Egyptology at the FA CU. Her diploma thesis was “Offering Tables from the T.g-Area of Djedkare’s Pyramid Complex: Evidence on personal cult in the monument of Queen Setibhor”. In her Ph.D. thesis, she focuses on the decorated burial chambers from the period of the Old Kingdom at the Memphite necropolis and their socio-economic implications.

In the present project, she deals with the pottery coffins and with the decoration of the wooden coffins.




Marie Peterková Hlouchová / Věra Nováková

Czech Institute of Egyptology

Charles University

Faculty of Arts

nám. Jana Palacha 1/2

116 38 Praha 1

Czech Republic

Úvod > Research > Projects > Other projects > Ancient Egyptian Burial Containers