This model of a garden and portico was discovered in a hidden chamber at the side of the passage leading into the rock cut tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre, who began his career under King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II of Dynasty 11 and continued to serve successive kings into the early years of Dynasty 12.
In the center of the garden is a pond surrounded by sycamore fig trees with red fruit growing from the trunks and branches. The pond is lined with copper and could have been filled with water. Facing the garden is the porch of a house. Two rows of columns support the roof made of palm trunks split into halves. The rear columns have capitals in the form of papyrus stalks bound together, the capitals of the front columns imitate bundles of lotus. Rainfall is rare in Upper Egypt, but such an eventuality is provided for in three projecting spouts. At the back of the portico are two doors and a latticed window. These are depicted in more detail also on the outside of the model. The garden model is in essence a libation basin (the pool) with associated vegetation and architecture. There may be links with the so-called "soul houses," clay models of houses with representations of offerings in the forecourts.
All the accessible rooms in the tomb of Meketre had been robbed and plundered already during Antiquity; but early in 1920 the Museum's excavator, Herbert Winlock, wanted to obtain an accurate floor plan of the tomb's layout for his map of the Eleventh Dynasty necropolis at Thebes and, therefore, had his workmen clean out the accumulated debris. It was during this cleaning operation that the small hidden chamber was discovered, filled with twenty-four almost perfectly preserved models. Eventually, half of these went to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and the other half came to the Metropolitan Museum in the partition of finds.
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Model showing the porch
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Dimensions:L. 84.4 cm (33 1/4); W. 42.5 cm (16 3/4 in); H. 39.5 cm (15 9/16)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1920
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1920.
Winlock, Herbert E. 1935. Private Life of the Ancient Egyptians. New York, fig. 3.
Scott, Nora E. 1944. Home Life of the Ancient Egyptians: A Picture Book. New York: Plantin Press, fig. 4, 5.
Smith, W. Stevenson 1946. History of Egyptian Sculpture and Painting in the Old Kingdom. Boston and Oxford, p. 104.
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. 167; p. 263, fig. 169.
Smith, W. Stevenson 1958. The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt. Baltimore, pl. 62B.
Posener, Georges 1959. Dictionnaire de la civilisation égyptienne. Paris: F. Hazan, p. 159.
Scott, Nora E. 1965. "Our Egyptian Furniture." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, new ser., vol. 24, no. 4 (December), pp. 139, 145, fig. 41.
Baker, Hollis S. 1966. Furniture in the Ancient World: Origins and Evolution, 3100-475 B.C.. New York: Macmillan Co., p. 113, fig. 150.
Scott, Nora E. 1973. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, new ser., vol. 31, no. 3 (Spring), New York, p. 130.
Wilkinson, Alix 1990. "Symbolism and design in ancient Egyptian gardens." In Journal of Garden History, 22, p. 200.
Arnold, Dorothea 2005. "The Architecture of Meketre's Slaughterhouse and Other Early Twelfth Dynasty Wooden Models." In Structure and Significance in Egyptian Architecture: Thoughts on Ancient Egyptian Architecture [Festschrift Dieter Arnold], 33, pp. 32n114, 35, 46-47 and n183.
Arnold, Felix 2015. "Model of a Portch and Garden." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 192–93, no. 122.
Arnold, Dorothea 2015. "Statues in Their Settings: Encountering the Divine." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 19.
Quirke, Stephen 2015. "Understanding Death: A Journey between Worlds." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 220.
Grajetzki, Wolfram 2015. "The Pharaoh's Subjects: Court and Provinces." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 120, 123.
Arnold, Dieter and Adela Oppenheim 2015. "Excavations by The Metropolitan Museum of Art at Middle Kingdom Sites." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 313.
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