Reconstruction of a Foundation Deposit

New Kingdom
Dynasty 18
Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III
ca. 1479–1458 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut, Foundation Deposit 3–6 (C-F), MMA excavations, 1923–24
Pottery, wood, leather, reed, stone, bronze or copper alloy, food remains
h. 96.5 cm (38 in); diam. at top 110 cm (43 5/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1925
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 115
Before they constructed a sacred building like Hatshepsut's mortuary temple, the ancient Egyptians would perform a foundation ceremony known as "the stretching of the cord." One part of this ceremony was the laying out of the building's perimeter by stretching a cord between stakes in the ground. Another was the digging of pits, often lined with mud brick, at significant points around the perimeter and filling them with votive objects.

The objects in Hatshepsut's foundation deposits included alabaster ointment jars (25.3.46a, b), pottery vessels containing food (27.3.414), folded pieces of linen cloth, reed mats (96.4.9), model tools ( 96.4.7), ritual implements (27.3.400), and meat offerings from cattle that were slaughtered during the foundation ceremony.

Eleven foundation deposits can be associated with Hatshepsut's temple, eight of which were discovered by the Metropolitan Museum's Egyptian Expedition. This reconstruction contains a representative selection of objects found in the deposits in the lower courtyard of the temple. More examples of these objects may be seen in gallery 116.
Objects are from the Museum's excavations at Deir el Bahri, 1924-1925.

Posener, Georges 1959. Dictionnaire de la civilisation égyptienne. Paris: F. Hazan, p. 18.

Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p.85, fig. 46.