Funeral Boat Setting out under Sail

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12
reign of Amenemhat I, early
ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of Meketre (TT 280, MMA 1101), MMA 1920
Wood, paint, plaster, linen twine and cloth
l. 145 cm (57 1/16 in), with rudder 147cm (57 7/8 in); w. 33 cm (13 in), with oars 73 cm (28 3/4 in); h. 40 cm (15 3/4 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1920
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The green color of the hull of this boat, its vertical prow, backward-curving stern and double steering oars imitate elements of vessels made from papyrus stalks. Even the lashings of the leather sheaths that covered prow and stern of such boats are rendered. Boats of this particular type appear in representations of the "pilgrimage to Abydos" that was part of the Egyptian funerary ritual from the Middle Kingdom onwards. The ritual character of this boat trip is clearly demonstrated by the fact that not the living Meketre but a statue sits under the baldaquin accompanied by a companion (possibly his son), while priests perform offering rituals in front of it. The basic idea of a trip to the major cult center of the god Osiris at Abydos, where the god's death and resurrection were celebrated, is however maintained by the presence of two boats: one that is rowed northward from Thebes to Abydos (20.3.5), and another (the present boat) that is just setting out on the back trip its (missing) sail being hoisted by the men in the center, while a single sailor pushes it off the embankment with a forked pole.

  • Provenance

    Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1920.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History