Model Boat with Crew Sailing Upstream

The traditional model of a boat depicts the crew sailing upstream. The boat is equipped with a mast, spars, or poles, and a well-preserved linen sail, and rigging and an oar. The models of the 15 members of the crew vary in posture, except for their feet, which are separately modeled in stucco.

They are painted dark red, emphasizing the natural color of their skin. They wear heavy short black wigs. The cabin, open at the front and back, is decorated with two bull hide shields hanging on either side.

Model Boat with Crew Sailing Upstream
Model Boat with Crew Sailing Upstream

Boats were the commonest type of funerary models placed in tombs during the Middle Kingdom. They provided the dead person with the magical means of traveling along the waterways of the Underworld.

The many wooden models found in the tomb of chancellor Meketre represents scenes such as the inspection of animals, weavers and carpenters’ workshops, and boats sailing on the Nile. This curious and realistic miniature world was made to accompany the deceased on his journey beyond the tomb with the purpose of serving him in his daily needs in the Afterlife.

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, ca. 1981-1975 BC. From the Tomb of Meketre (TT280), Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46720

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