Model of a Cattle Census
This large model shows a courtyard where the inspection of cattle took place. Meketre, his son, and four scribes sit under a columned canopy with scribes and guards standing nearby. Cattle are driven before them by several farmers and herdsmen in order to be counted for inspection purposes. All men are wearing short kilts and the farmers who drive the cattle are wearing long wigs and holding sticks.
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.
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.
The number of models of scenes and boats increased as the periods changed and the types of figures in tombs shifted from people giving offering to scenes of daily life.
This culminates in the Middle Kingdom where tombs could have over thirty scenes depicted, over fifty boats and only a dozen or so people giving offering. Compared to tombs in Giza that may have only twenty models with servants depicted.
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, ca. 1981-1975 BC. Tomb of Meketre (TT280), Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46724