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Finally travelling abroad again… Leiden

July 2021

After a year and a half of COVID-19 lockdowns, Stefania was able to fly abroad again! This time it was the turn of yellow coffins at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, in Leiden!

The history of the Collection

The Leiden Egyptian collection with its 80,000 objects is widely considered to be one of the world’s top ten Egyptian collections. The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) was founded in 1818 by King William I and soon became a prestigious institution for the Netherlands.
 Among its most important acquisitions are the 4500 objects from the Lescluze (1926), Cimba (1927) and d’Anastasi (1928) collections many of which came from Saqqara, the royal and elite cemetery of the city of Memphis.

The Egyptian collection increased in the following years as a result of excavations by the RMO in Egypt and the donation of objects to the Netherlands by Egypt itself.  An example is the first mission at Abu Roash (a village west of Cairo) where the at that time Adolf Klaasens, the curator of the museum, found numerous tombs from the time of the earliest Egyptian kings. Part of the grave gifts discovered (vessels, flints, stone or copper tools, cosmetics, and pearls) were then donated to the Museum by Egypt. Another important donation by the Egyptian Government was arrivel of Lot XI of yellow coffins from the Bab el-Gasus Cache in Leiden in 1893 thanks to the intercession of Willem Pleyte, who at that time was the the RMO Director.


Along with statues, vessels, and many other typologies of artefacts, the RMO in Leiden holds a large number of Ancient Egyptian coffins from the Middle Kingdom to the Late Period.

Amongst these is a significant number of yellow coffins, some of which come from the famous  Bab el-Gasus Cache (six coffins and three mummy boards). Moreover, the museum also includes coffins coming from other areas of the Theban necropolis, such as the wonderful inner coffin of Djedmonthuiuefankh (inv. no. AMM 18-h) dated to the late 21st or early 22nd Dynasty and was published by Prof. Van Walsem in 1997.

The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden  is another partner of the Vatican Coffin Project and The Gate of the Priests Project

The yellow coffins involved in the Faces Revealed Project

Stefania would like to thank Daniel Soliman and Lara Weiss,  the Curators of the Egyptian collection, and all of the RMO staff for the enormous help and assistance they gave her during her research visit.

The orthophotographs of the coffins are the result of the photogrammetry completed as part of the Faces Revealed Project (H2020-MSCA-GF 2019: 895130). All pictures are courtesy of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden.


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  • Sousa, Rogério, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney. Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the priests of Amun. Antico Egitto 4. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.
  • Walsem, René van. The Coffin of Djedmonthuiufankh in the National Museum of Antiquities at Leiden. Voll. I-II. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1997.
  • Weiss, Lara. ‘Aesthetics & Science: The New Permanent Egyptian Galleries in the Leiden National Museum of Antiquities’. Aegyptiaca. Journal of the History of Reception of Ancient Egypt 2 (2018): 213–34.
  • ———, ed. The Coffins of the Priests of Amun . Egyptian Coffins from the 21st Dynasty in the Collection of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. Papers on Archaeology from the Leiden Museum of Antiquities (PALMA) 17. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2018.