An Egyptian sarcophagus that once held the mummified body of a woman 3,000 years ago has been found on display in a living room in Essex, England.
A local auctioneers firm discovered the wooden artefact during a routine valuation of items in the house in Essex, but were not expecting to come across the 6 feet tall sarcophagus, which has hieroglyphs inside.
The Egyptian sarcophagus once held the mummified body of a woman 3,000 years ago
It is thought to have once belonged to a noblewoman and to have been placed in an Egyptian burial chamber in 3,000 years ago, according to MailOnline.
Mark Stacey, the expert from Reeman Dansie auctioneers in Essex who discovered the sarcophagus said, “The hairs went up on the back of my neck when I walked into the drawing room. It stood out like a sore thumb.”
“It was stood up against a wall and was being used as a decorative item,” he explained. “It is certainly the oldest item I have been asked to look at in my career and probably one of the most exciting.”
The once colourful exterior of the coffin is faded but there are clear facial features that have been carved out of the wood. Experts believe the face was covered in a type of plaster and painted.
The coffin has clear facial features that have been carved out of the wood
It is believed to have been given to the owner, who has not been identified, about 60 years ago and is thought to have been purchased from a museum that closed down.
The find comes as a 2,300-year-old Egyptian coffin lid sold for £12,000 (almost LE140,000) last month, much more than its guide price of £3,000 (nearly LE35,000), after it was found in another house in Essex, though Egyptian officials tried to block the sale maintaining that it had been illegally removed from Egypt.
Little is known about its history but it is thought the coffin was brought over from Egypt following the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century.
James Grinter, managing director of Reeman Dansie, said, “In the 19th century it was very common for people to collect ancient Egyptian objects. The fascination began after Napoleon invaded Egypt around 1800.
A member of the auctioneer’s team, Gina Vince admires the sacrophagus
“British people were inspired and many items ended up being brought back. People used to have parties where they would unwrap mummies for entertainment.
“The mummy that was once inside this coffin is long gone but the coffin itself has survived. Somehow it found its way into a museum.
“We often come across small ancient Egyptian items but coffins are extremely rare to find in private hands. We weren’t expecting it at all.
“It’s quite an eerie thing but absolutely stunning, it takes your breath away.”
The sarcophagus is tipped to sell for £6,000 (LE70,000) at the auction being held on 24 November.
The mummy that was once inside this coffin is long gone but the coffin itself has survived
Photographs: Reeman Dansie auctioneers, UK.