Zuzanna Bennett, Swansea University

Anatomy of a Coffin Text demon

In the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts, demonic entities are vividly described and sometimes intricately illustrated. These descriptions and depictions are of a network of supernatural beings consisting of individuals with distinct characters, attributes and forms. Demonic appearances can vary substantially, ranging in size from small to gigantic, in structure from anthropomorphic to zoomorphic, and in anatomy from bovine-headed to long-nailed entities. The most frequent forms of these demons will be figuratively dissected and each component 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 demonstrates their importance as manifestations of the ancient Egyptian hopes and fears, but could also be a key to understanding the functions of funerary demons.

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