Travelling Boat being Rowed, Wood, paint, plaster, linen twine and cloth

Travelling Boat being Rowed

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 excavations, 1920
Wood, paint, plaster, linen twine and cloth
l. 117 cm (46 1/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1920
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 105
This boat is being rowed in a northerly direction, downstream, against the prevailing north wind. Its mast and spars rest in the forklike support beam, ready to be rigged for the return journey. The sail lies folded on the deck. A small cabin, positioned amidships, leaves room for eighteen rowers; speed clearly is important on this journey. Seated on a stool in the prow, Meketre holds a closed lotus flower to his nose. Before him stands a man (possibly the boat captain), with arms crossed reverentially over his chest. Inside the cabin, a servant guards Meketre's trunk. Is the Chief Steward on an inspection tour for the pharaoh, and does the trunk contain the accounts? Even if this represents a real-life event, the model still refers to the afterlife because the lotus flower, which opens every morning when the sun comes up, is a symbol of rebirth.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1920.

Breasted, James H. Jr. 1936. Geschichte Ägyptens. Zürich, Pl. 86.

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, 167.

Hibbard, Howard 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harper & Row, 31, fig. 43.

Patch, Diana Craig 2011. "From Land to Landscape." In Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n. 101.