The Sarcophagus of Seti I, held at the Sir John Soane Museum in London, is a significant 19th Dynasty artifact of Ancient Egyptian funerary art. Fabricated for the father of Ramses the Great, it is a distinguished alabaster sarcophagus, notable for its detailed engravings and light-reflecting qualities of the material.

The sarcophagus exhibits common funerary practices from the New Kingdom, emphasising the importance of the afterlife and the spiritual journey of the deceased king. The exterior and interior surfaces feature comprehensive hieroglyphics and illustrative images drawn from the "Book of Gates." This funerary text narrates the progression of the deceased through the underworld and their final unity with the sun god, Ra.

The meticulously executed carvings and the semi-translucent alabaster, which would have been illuminated by natural light or oil lamps, accentuates the artifact’s divine aspect. Furthermore, the sarcophagus signifies Seti I's religious adherence and readiness for the afterlife, highlighting the Egyptian concept of ka’s immortality and the essential need for a grandiose burial chamber for the deceased.

The sarcophagus was taken from Seti I's burial site in the Valley of the Kings before Soane purchased it in 1824, making it a prominent part of the museum's collection ever since. This artifact not only represents the magnificence of Seti I’s reign but also illustrates the 19th-century obsession with Egyptian antiquities, marking a time when European collectors actively collected and displayed these ancient artifacts.

19th Dynasty
Sir John Soane Museum
Tomb of Seti I, Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt
New Kingdom, Egyptian Burials