The first clearly established royal coffins date to the 3rd Dynasty, and some of these made of stone have been preserved. They were often very plain, with a flat cover, though some are more elaborate with vaulted lids and crosspieces. However, there was considerable differences between coffins belonging to private individuals as opposed to royalty, obviously due to the limited resources available to most of the deceased.
Royal burials were often equipped with various funerary equipment and objects, while private individuals might instead have such objects painted on their coffins and on the interior walls of their tombs. In fact, coffins and coffin walls were decorated from a very early date. The first decorations were false doors and false-door facades, which first appeared on wooden coffins of the 2nd and 3rd Dynasty, and later on royal and private sarcophagi of the Old Kingdom.
Private individuals of that period also began to decorate their tombs interiors, though in a different style then royalty, with scenes of everyday life. However, the coffins remained relatively plain, at most having a pair of eyes (so that the deceased could see) and horizontal bands of hieroglyphs on the outside, and on the inside, a false door, lists of offerings and more bands of hieroglyphs.
As with portraits, coffin styles and decorations changed over time. The earliest were made of wood and were basically rectangular boxes. This type of coffin remained common through the Middle Kingdom, though it was then that the anthropoid-shaped coffins first appeared as an inner container for the body placed within the rectangular outer coffin.
· 1 decade ago