Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco-42895

Accession Number: 



            The coffin of Irethoreru was donated to the (now) de Young Museum in San Francisco in 1917 by local businessman Jeremiah Lynch, who acquired it on a trip to Egypt in 1889. Five years prior to Lynch's visit, the cemeteries of the site of Akhmim (from which Irethoreru's coffin must have originated) were discovered by Egyptologist Gaston Maspero. The site's rich cemeteries were systematically plundered by official and unofficial excavations throughout the 1880s, and antiquities from the site flooded the art market to be subsequently snapped up by European and American tycoons like Lynch.

            Through most of the 20th century, the coffin and remains of Irethoreru were on long-term loan to the Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA. During this time, Dr. Patricia Podzorski undertook the first translation of the coffin.[1] The loan ended in 2009, and the Haggin Museum threw a good-bye party for Irethoreru, who had been a part of the community for a generation.[2] Studies of Irethoreru's remains and coffin undertaken by Dr Renée Dreyfus and Dr Jonathan Elias since his return to the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco have revealed much more about who Irethoreru was in life.

            An examination of Irethoreru's skeleton shows that he was at least 25 years old, but probably closer to 45.[3]  In life, he was a stolist priest of Min at Akhmim. This was a common title given to priests who had the duty of clothing the statues of ithyphallic gods. Additionally, Irethoreru was a priest of Osiris Sokar and also held the title of "fkty" or "bald" priest in the "House of the Sister". The location of this institution is unknown, which is not particularly surprising given the paucity of remains which can be definitively associated with the Akhmim temples. Irethoreru's coffin can be stylistically dated between the Saite Period (Dynasty 26) and the early Ptolemaic period, giving us a timeframe for when he lived: ~600-300 BCE.[4] The layout of the decoration on the coffin is very rare, and the closest parallel stylistically is the coffin of Minirdis at the Field Museum in Chicago.[5]

            Irethoreru's father, a man named Ankhwenennefer, held the same titles as Irethoreru. Dr. Jonathan Elias proposes that Irethoreru was the son of the same Ankhwenennefer whose coffins and remains are now in the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma and that his great uncle was the same Irethoreru whose coffin is now in the British Museum as (EA20745).[6] However, the owner of the coffins in Tacoma seems to have been much more highly ranked than Irethoreru's father. The relationship between Irethoreru's father Ankhwenennefer and the Ankhwenennefer in Tacoma remains unknown.

            Irethoreru's mother, Tadikhonsuiiti, has a long and interesting titulary which has proven enigmatic in all translations. One of her titles is "shemayt" (šmꜣy.t) priestess of Min. This title is mentioned in Theban temple reliefs depicting the festival of Min-Amun and dating to the 19th dynasty and the Ptolemaic period. In the later reliefs, the title is the name of a goddess. In the earlier reliefs, the role of the Shemayt priestess was performed by the queen, who used a combination of dance and chant in a ritual for the purpose of rejuvenating and re-empowering the king.[7] Irethoreru's mother was neither a queen nor a goddess, and the extent to which the Min-Festival rituals at Akhmim resembled those at Thebes is unknown, especially since it seems unlikely that the king would have appeared at the Akhmim temple to participate in them. Tadikhonsuiiti's other title, Pure Priestess of the Creator of the Ennead, is otherwise unknown. It is our hope that further study of religious life in the Egyptian provinces and further excavations at Akhmim will reveal more about the roles of Irethoreru and his parents in their community.


[1] Patricia Podzorski, ‘Report on the Ancient Egyptian Coffin of the Priest of Min, Osiris, and Sokar Iret-Net-Hor-Irw on Loan to the Haggin Museum, Stockton, California from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.’ (Stockton, California, 1997).

[2] ‘Haggin Museum Says Goodbye to Mummy’, KCRA News (Sacramento: KCRA, 2009) <>.

[3] Renée Dreyfus and Jonathan P. Elias, ‘Mummy by the Bay: Irethorrou, an Egyptian Priest of the Early Persian Period’, 2014, pp. 22–23 <

[4] Brech discusses this coffin as a special case in her publication on coffins from Akhmim Ruth Brech, Spätägyptische Särge Aus Achmim, Aegyptiaca Hamburgensia, 3 (Gladbeck: PeWe Verlag, 2008), p. 309.tentatively places it as a one-off subgroup of her Group E or her Group C. According to Brech, These coffins were manufactured between the 30th dynasty (Group C) and the Ptolemaic Period (Group E). This is contra Elias' dating to the Saite or Persian period, which is based on generation counting and genealogy (however, see note 6 for questions on the validity of Elias' proposed genealogy.)

[5] Interestingly, Minirdis' father's name was Irethoreru (Dreyfus and Elias, p 8). A picture of Minirdis' coffin can be found on the conservation blog of the field museum: Morgan Nau, ‘Opening the Coffin of Minirdis’, Field Museum, 2015 <> [accessed 10 September 2022].

[6] See Dreyfus and Elias, p 9-11. Irethoreru's father does not bear the title "Second Priest of Min" held by the owner of the coffin in Tacoma. Irethoreru's father is simply "mi҆ nw", which means he has the same titles as Irethoreru: He is a stolist (smꜣ.ty) of Min, a ḥm-nṯr priest of Osiris-Sokar, and "fk.ty n pr sn.t". Additionally, Ankhwenennefer is not a rare name, and the title Stolist of Min and the name Irethoreru are common at Akhmim. While the two Ankhwenennefers may be related, they do not seem to have been the same person.

[7] Marion Claude, ‘Shemayt, Matyt et la fête de Min’, Documents de Théologies Thébaines Tardives, Cahiers de l’Égypte Nilotique et Méditerranéenne (CENiM), 4 (2021), 43–60.


Model Online

FAMSF 42895: Coffin of Irethoreru