The University of Arizona
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The Anatomy of a Coffin Text Demon

Zuzanna Bennett

Abstract


At first glance, the vastly varying forms of the more than 400 different demonic entities described and illustrated in the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts appear strange and “monstrous,” but a more detailed analysis demonstrates that their appearances have greater symbolic and practical use than previously believed. The most frequent forms of these demons are figuratively dissected here, and each component is examined to identify which animal species are utilised. The anatomy of demons can also be linked to their other attributes, assisting, enabling, or inspiring them to perform particular functions or behaviours. The variety and complexity of the physical appearances of Coffin Text demons not only demonstrate their importance as manifestations of ancient Egyptian hopes and fears but could also be key to understanding the functions of funerary demons.

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