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Model of a Boat (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 1985–1650 B.C.E.
Unknown Egyptian Artist
30 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 41 inches (77.5 x 52.1 x 104.1 centimeters)
Sculpture, Wood


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Hanes

Ancient Egyptian

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • This wooden model boat features several geometric patterns and papyrus shapes at the bow and stern, or front and back. Papyrus is a flowering plant that grows in water.
  • The boat resembles the boats that were used on the Nile. Model boats like this one were placed inside tombs or underground vaults with the dead. The model boats were believed to help transport the dead person into the afterlife.  
  • The human figures on the boat include a crew made up of a pilot, four rowers, two sailors at the rigging, and a helmsman. The deceased person wears a white garment.

Learn More

During the Middle Kingdom, tombs often contained models of boats for the deceased to use in a journey across water, a trip necessary to achieve resurrection in the afterlife. With its round bottom and prow (the front part of the bow) and stern in the shape of stylized papyrus, this model boat resembles actual boats used on the Nile. A pilot at the prow watches the river ahead, and a helmsman with two oars steers from the stern. Two sailors attend the rigging for the sail, while four rowers pull on their oars. The deceased, who is dressed  in a white garment, sits under a canopy viewing his progress toward the afterlife.

tags: ancient Egypt, wood, ceremony, passage

Additional Resources

Resources for Educators

  • Learn more about ancient Egyptian model boats.
  • Explore an ancient Egyptian ship discovered in 1954.


Resources for Students


  • A wooden model of a boat with a crew of human figures and a passenger dressed in white clothing.

    Model of a Boat

    Egyptian Model of a Boat