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A carved and painted wooden coffin

Image of Egyptian High Priest’s Daughter Likened to Marge Simpson

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After is discovery in 2023, Reddit readers have just picked up on the depiction of a character resembling Marge Simpson on the inner lid of a 3,500-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus. The coffin, belonging to Tadi Ist, the daughter of a high priest in El-Ashmunein, features a yellow-skinned woman in a long green garment with blue hair shaped in a rectangular style, strikingly similar to the iconic character from the popular TV show "The Simpsons." 

This fairly accurate comparison, was first shared on Reddit, sparking excitement and humor among users. Many commented on the uncanny resemblance and joked about the possibility that "Egypt predicted 'The Simpsons.'" While the depiction's resemblance to Marge Simpson is fascinating, experts believe it more likely represents Tadi Ist herself, portrayed as she journeys to the afterlife. 

Dr. Mustafa Waziri, revealing the wooden coffin

Dr. Mustafa Waziri, revealing the wooden coffin, depicting "Ta Djesa," the daughter of a high priest of Jehuty in Ashmunein, which is deemed to look very much like Marge Simpson. (Ministry of Antiquities) 

The Coffin and Its Significance 

The sarcophagus of Tadi Ist was discovered in early 2023 in Minya, approximately 27 miles (44 km) south of El-Ashmunein. Professor Ghada Shalaby, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Dr. Mohamed Abu Zeid, Deputy Governor of Minya, announced the discovery of the cemetery, which was full of the tombs of high-ranking officials, powerful priests, and their treasures. 

The drawing of the Marge Simpson look-alike is surrounded by a dozen high priestesses, symbolizing the 12 hours of the day. This scene is considered rare and significant, adding to our understanding of ancient Egyptian burial customs and artistic expressions. 

The wooden coffin lid

The wooden coffin lid, depicting "Ta Djesa," the daughter of a high priest of Jehuty in Ashmunein (Ministry of Antiquities) 

At the time of the discovery, Mostafa Waziry, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, noted the importance of the find, emphasizing that each depicted hour in the scene has its own unique representation. However, it is the central drawing's resemblance to Marge Simpson that has captured the public's imagination, bringing a modern twist to the interpretation of ancient artifacts. 

Contextualizing the Cemetery 

The discovery of this cemetery at Griefa, in Tuna Al-Jabal, adds a whole new dimension to the region's already rich archaeological landscape. In the Facebook press release Dr. Waziri said excavations began in the Griefa archaeological area in 2017, however, all previous archaeological findings in this area dated to the Old Kingdom [2686 BC-2181 BC] the First Intermediate Period [2181 BC-2055 BC] and the Middle Kingdom [2055 BC - 1650 BC], including the rock-cut tombs in the Sheikh Said and Deir Al-Barsha areas. 

Describing the discovery as “a groundbreaking moment,” Dr. Mustafa Waziri described the most significant discoveries made by the mission up to now, including Late Period burial shafts leading to chambers with stone and wooden coffins, alongside “25,000+ Osirian figurines, canopic jars, shabtis, and stone/wooden statues.” 

The new discoveries include the bodies of regional rulers, esteemed high-ranking officials, and priests from the New Kingdom (1550 BC to 1070 BC), alongside an extensive list of grave goods. 

Canopic jars found at the Griefa necropolis site

Canopic jars found at the Griefa necropolis site. (Ministry of Antiquities) 

Unfolding an Enormous Book of the Dead Scroll 

Dr. Waziri described the cemetery as containing “numerous rock-cut tombs with hundreds of archaeological artifacts, stone and wooden coffins with mummies. Among the grave goods were amulets, jewelry, clay and wood pottery Osirian figurines, belonging to high-ranking officials, like for example, “Jehuty Mes, the overseer of the temple of Amun's bulls, and Nany, who held the title of Jehuty's singer.” 

Perhaps the most significant discovery made at the cemetery was a well-preserved scroll, illustrating parts of The Book of the Dead, measuring 13 to 15 meters [42.65 to 49.21 feet] long. Representing, “the first complete papyrus ever found in the Griefa area,” this prized artifact will eventually be displayed in the Egyptian Museum. 

Some of the beautiful shabti statues found

Some of the beautiful shabti statues found. (Ministry of Antiquities) 

Carved, Painted Coffins, and Canopic Jars  

Helping to date the cemetery, the archaeologists identified a particular burial containing a carved and painted wooden coffin, depicting "Ta Djesa," the daughter of a high priest of Jehuty in Ashmunein - "Irt-Heru." Furthermore, two wooden boxes aligned beside Ta Djes’ body contained her canopic jars, used to safeguard specific organs like the liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines. As well as a complete collection of Osirian figurines, the researchers recovered a statue of “Ptah-Sokar,” a deity from ancient Egyptian religion, combining the attributes of “Ptah” and “Sokar”. 

Since the Old Kingdom (2686 BC-2181 BC,) Ptah-Sokar was venerated throughout the expanse of ancient Egyptian history. Ptah, was associated with creation and craftsmanship, and Sokar, was an emblem of the afterlife and funerary rituals, and the syncretic nature of Ptah-Sokar's worship allowed for a seamless integration of the story from creation to the afterlife. 

The discovery of a Marge Simpson look-alike on an ancient Egyptian coffin is a captivating example of how modern culture can intersect with archaeological findings, sparking public interest and curiosity. This finding enriches our understanding of ancient Egyptian burial practices and artistic traditions, while also providing a lighthearted connection to a beloved modern icon. 

Top image: A carved and painted wooden coffin, depicting "Ta Djesa," the daughter of a high priest of Jehuty in Ashmunein uncovered at the Griefa cemetery Egypt. Source: Ministry of Antiquities 

 
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Ashley

Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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