Model of a Carpentry Workshop

This model from Meketre’s funerary furniture shows some carpenters in their carpentry workshop. They are busy with woodworking of various kinds. One carpenter in the middle is sawing a piece of wood while other workmen are working around the sides holding hoes. A carpenter sits in the middle of the scene and uses a mallet and chisel to cut out the mortise holes. At the corner, a number of men gather around a fire to reshape and sharpen the metal blades of their tools.

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.

Model of a Carpentry Workshop
Model of a Carpentry Workshop

Wooden tomb models were deposited as grave goods in the tombs and burial shafts throughout early Egyptian History, most notably in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt.

They included a wide variety of wooden figurines and scenes, such as boats, granaries, baking and brewing scenes and butchery scenes. These served as ways to preserve the action depicted for eternity in honor of the dead.

“Egyptian artists would be surprised that we consider their work art. Craftsmen toiled in anonymity [with rare exceptions], signed none of their works and attained no fame during their lifetimes.

Their society recognized no difference between fine art forms, such as painting and sculpting, and ‘lesser arts,’ such as pottery or cabinetry. Practitioners of any of these skills were regarded as simple workers on a level with, say, carpenters.”

Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians, by Bob Brier and Hoyt Hobbs (#aff)

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 46722