Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Oarsmen and an Official

Old Kingdom
Dynasty 4–5
reign of Userkaf ?
ca. 2465–2458 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Pyramid Temple of Amenemhat I, MMA excavations, 1920–22
Limestone, paint traces
h. 60 cm (23 5/8 in); w. 30 cm (11 13/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1922
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
In the upper register, rowers wield their oars, each man with one foot braced on a rail to increase leverage. Lashed to the deck behind them is the ship's cargo, perhaps a large block of stone or an architectural element for a royal construction. The faint shapes of the oar blades beneath the zigzag lines of the water indicate the water's partial transparency.

In the lower register, an official wearing a cylinder seal on a cord around his neck seems about to put on another such cord, which he holds in his hands-perhaps an award bestowed by the pharaoh.

The small bow in the official's hair and the complex overlay of carved levels in the rowing scene point to a date in the reign of Userkaf.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1922.

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