The serdab of Meketra’s tomb contained twenty-five wooden models of men and women performing various daily tasks typical of life along the Nile. One vivid and animated scene shows fishermen on board two green-hulled boats used on the river in ancient times; the boats are made from strips of rushes tied with cords. Oarsmen, one in the bow and one in the stern, propel the boats while other men, dressed in white trousers held up by a single brace that crosses the chest, are busy freeing fish from the net slung between the two boats. The net is weighed down at the sides by wooden weights and dragged with the aid of ropes held by the two sets of fishermen.
The bright polychrome scene is made vivid by the realism of the portrayals and faithfully reproduces an activity that took place daily on the Nile. Fish were an important element of the ancient Egyptian diet. The entire composition is fixed to a wooden board painted green.
The many wooden models found in the tomb of chancellor Meketra 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 46715