word “sarcophagus” is a Greek word, which means ‘flesh-eater’
apparently from a Hellenic belief that some stone used for
body-containers, actually consumed its contents (as if the sarcophagus
eats the flesh of the deceased). This is confirmed by the fact that in
Predynastic times the bodies were buried in a contracted position in
shallow pits in the sand and they retain their shape until now (like the
famous example of the mummified body kept at the British Museum). The
bodies were preserved only by means of the heat of the sand due to the
hot weather.Then by around the late 3rd Dynasty, sarcophagi were
introduced for keeping the dead bodies but it was discovered that the
bodies decomposed (were not preserved) so in the 4th Dynasty the
Egyptians thought about mummification as a means of preserving the dead
bodies; so it is logic that they mummify the body then put it inside the
sarcophagus which will not then eat the flesh of the deceased.
Sarcophagus in Ancient Egyptian language
The name of sarcophagus in ancient Egyptian language was nb anx (Lord of life) or pr anx: House of life or since the Ramesside Period mn anx: the eternal monument.
Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus facts
The earliest sarcophagi recorded dated to the Old Kingdom (3rd dynasty). They were made out of stone and the lid took the shape of the ancient shrine of the North (Shrine of goddess Wadjet) or the “pr nw”. Later on, in the New Kingdom, wooden sarcophagi appeared but they were used by private people as only royalties could use stone sarcophagi. At this time, the lids took the shape of the sloping “pr wr” or the ancient shrine of the South (Shrine of goddess Nekhbet).
Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus video
Royal sarcophagi were initially rectangular in shape but soon adopted an oval, cartouche-form which continued into the Twentieth dynasty, with the exception of the Amarna Period also a very popular form of sarcophagi was the anthropoid (meaning: taking the shape of the human body. This word derives from the word ‘anthropology’ which means the science of the human body.).