Oarsmen and an Official

Old Kingdom

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.

Oarsmen and an Official, Limestone, paint traces

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