The story of how the Ancient Egyptians honoured their dead is explored in the second Rites of Passage silver coin
After skipping 2022, Numiscollect’s ‘Rites of Passage’ series returns with its second issue. A fascinating subject for a coin series, the way our ancestors celebrated the death of their leaders and important people could almost be called the most important window into the past we have. From the Celtic ship burials, through the pyramids of Egypt and Mesoamerica, to the staggering Terracotta Warriors in China, our most ambitious works have often been in service to the dead.
The Vikings were the subject of the first issue, but for 2023, we head on over to North Africa to the builders of the most famous burial monuments in world history – the Egyptians. Egypt, and the surrounding countries, are liberally littered with temples, mausoleums, underground tombs, and, most famously of all, the pyramids, all dedicated to marking the passage of great individuals.
The subtly coloured reverse face depicts one of the impressive burial processions, with a sarcophagus carried on a cart shaped like a reed boat, and drawn by oxen. It heads toward a huge mortuary temple, like that constructed for the Pharaoh Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty. The pyramids sit in the background, but it’s the actual ceremony that takes centre stage. A terrific vista, the only thing we’d have added would have been some footprints, to ground the figures in the scene.
The obverse doesn’t focus on the physical burial sites, but rather the extravagant lore that surrounds them. The Field of Reeds (Aaru), the heavenly realm overseen by Osiris, is depicted, as is Anubis, weighing the heart of a deceased person against an ostrich feather. Should it balance against the feather, they can pass into the afterlife, brought there by the god Ra, in a boat, also depicted. If not, they spend eternity in Duat, with Osiris. A superb mix of imagery, it does a great job of covering as much of the mythology as can be reasonably expected on a coin face.
As before, this is a two-ounce 0.999 silver coin, smartminted, antiqued, and rimless. The images, all of an actual coin, suggest an excellent quality strike, but we’d expect nothing less given its origin. It has a mintage of 555 pieces, and comes boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity. It’s available to order now.
Ancient Egyptian afterlife beliefs were centred around a variety of complex rituals that were influenced by many aspects of Egyptian culture. The Egyptian concept of ‘eternal life’ was often seen as being reborn indefinitely. The burial practices involved a lot of stages and differed throughout the hierarchy of the Egyptian civilization. For Pharaohs, the dead would first be mummified and put into a coffin. It would then be carried in a procession through a corridor of many statues into a tomb. In the tomb a lot of treasures would be put as well to be used in the afterlife. The most important however was food, as the spirit could still starve before it reached the after world.
The journey to the afterlife and rebirth has various stages as per the old Egyptian beliefs. These are divided into the journey, judgement, and rebirth. The journey to the afterlife by boat was strictly reserved for pharaohs. God Ra would come when the sun sets and lead the expedition. The second stage was the judgement of the worthiness of the soul. This was done by weighing the heart against a feather by God Anubis. If the feather was heavier, God Osiris would admit the deceased into the Fields of Reed and granted a second life for all eternity.
|COMPOSITION||62.2 g of 0.999 silver|
|MODIFICATIONS||High-relief, colour, smartminting|
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