Erich Lessing/Israel Museum

Three anthropoid coffins, bearing the exaggerated features of the “grotesque” style, date from 14th-century B.C. Deir el-Balah, in the Gaza Strip. Burial containers in the shape of the human body were used in Egypt, ancient Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon for nearly 3,000 years, starting in about 2000 B.C. The trio shown here formed part of a collection of 40 anthropoid coffins from Deir el-Balah obtained by the late Israeli general Moshe Dayan and, after his death, acquired by the Israel Museum. While Israel’s claim to these objects is therefore not strong, there are enough of these coffins to be shared by various museums, Israel’s included, on a rotating basis. Will, or should, these coffins be turned over to the Palestinians when they take control of Gaza?