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Travelling Boat being Rowed

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 12
Reign:
reign of Amenemhat I, early
Date:
ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of Meketre (TT 280, MMA 1101), MMA excavations, 1920
Medium:
Wood, paint, plaster, linen twine and cloth
Dimensions:
l. 117 cm (46 1/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1920
Accession Number:
20.3.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 105
This boat is being rowed in a northerly direction, downstream, against the prevailing north wind. Its mast and spars rest in the forklike support beam, ready to be rigged for the return journey. The sail lies folded on the deck. A small cabin, positioned amidships, leaves room for eighteen rowers; speed clearly is important on this journey. Seated on a stool in the prow, Meketre holds a closed lotus flower to his nose. Before him stands a man (possibly the boat captain), with arms crossed reverentially over his chest. Inside the cabin, a servant guards Meketre's trunk. Is the Chief Steward on an inspection tour for the pharaoh, and does the trunk contain the accounts? Even if this represents a real-life event, the model still refers to the afterlife because the lotus flower, which opens every morning when the sun comes up, is a symbol of rebirth.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1920.

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