Model of a House

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 13, mid
ca. 1750–1700 B.C.
From Egypt, Middle Egypt, Deir Rifa, Tomb 72, BSAE, excavations 1906-1907
l. 40 cm (15 3/4 in); w. 54 cm (21 1/4 in); th. 34 cm (13 3/8 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of The Egyptian Research Account and British School of Archaeology in Egypt, 1907
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 113
At Rifa in middle Egypt, the British excavator William Flinders Petrie found clay models of houses such as this placed near burials in such a way that he concluded they had been placed above the burials. He called them "soul houses." At other sites such as Thebes, oval clay trays have been found that include sometimes rough reproductions of huts and always little offerings modelled in clay. These trays were placed in and at the entrances to tombs. Most of the models have a kind of spout at the front through which libation water could flow into the ground.

This model from Rifa of the "soul house" type represents a house with a three-columned portico behind a walled courtyard; in front of the courtyard a libation spout is partly preserved. A stairway on the right gives access to the roof of the house, where an arched opening represents a feature in actual houses through which cool air was conducted into the main bedroom. On the left wall of the house a barred window is indicated. A mid-thirteenth dynasty date for this particular house model is indicated by the pottery found in the burial with which it was associated.
Excavated by the Egyptian Research Account and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt. Received the ERA and the BSAE from the Egyptian government in the division of finds. Allotted to the Museum through subscription, 1907.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 256, fig. 162.

Muller, Béatrice 2016. Maquettes antiques d'Orient : de l'image d'architecture au symbole. Paris: Picard, p. 153, fig. 114.