"Solar boat" of the Pharaoh Cheops. A model from the Sun Boat Museum near its pyramid
“Glory to you, Osiris, God of Eternity, king of the gods, whose names are innumerable, whose incarnations are holy. You are a sacred image in temples; the twin soul will always be sacred to incoming mortals. "
(Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead - Hymn to Osiris)
(Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead - Hymn to Osiris)
History ancient civilizations. The interest in Ancient Egypt, caused by articles about Akhenaten and Ramses among the readers of materials on VO, did not go out at all, as evidenced by their letters. And many are even interested in such "little things" as the ancient Egyptian ships. In particular, there were questions about the so-called "Pharaoh's Solar Boat", but there is simply nothing to add to what VO wrote about earlier. And to everyone who is interested in this topic, I can recommend the material by S. Denisova "Cedar boat of Cheops: a journey of 5 years."
Nevertheless, quite a lot is known about the shipbuilding of the ancient Egyptians. And the point is not only in the two found "Solar boats", and drawings on papyri and on the walls of temples and tombs. We were just very lucky that due to some circumstances that are difficult to explain today, in one of the Egyptian tombs a whole "fleet" of models was discovered, and even with figures of people. These models were made very carefully, skillfully, so that their study gave Egyptologists a lot in relation to the ancient ships of Egypt. Well, today we will tell you about how these models fell into the hands of scientists and what they are ...
And it so happened that back in 1895, French archaeologists investigated the Theban tomb No. 280, which belonged to the dignitary of the Middle Kingdom Maketra (or Maketra), but did not find anything interesting, since all the available rooms in this tomb were plundered back in antiquity. But in early 1920, Metropolitan Museum archaeologist Herbert Winlock decided to get an accurate plan of this tomb for his map of the XNUMXth Dynasty necropolis in Thebes, and therefore ordered his workers to clean up the accumulated debris.
It was during this cleaning operation that a small hidden chamber was discovered, filled with many almost perfectly preserved models and models, which, like the ushebti figures “I am here,” were supposed to make life easier for the owner in the next world. Half of them ended up in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the other half, when dividing the finds, went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
This model of a river vessel was found along with twenty-three other models of boats, ships and workshops in a secret chamber on the side of the passage leading to the rock-cut tomb of the chief steward Meketr, who began his career under Pharaoh Mentuhotep II of the XI dynasty and continued to serve as successors. friend to the kings in the early years of the XII dynasty. The scene shown on the model shows us Meketra himself, sitting in the shade of a small cabin, which on a real boat would have been made of a light timber frame with linen or leather curtains. Wooden shields covered with bovine skins are painted on each side of the cockpit roof. The singer, holding his hand to his lips, and the blind harper entertain Meketra on his journey. Before him stands a man, probably the captain of the ship, with his arms crossed over his chest. While twelve oarsmen set the boat in motion, an observer at the bow holds a lot to determine the depth of the river. At the stern, the helmsman controls the steering wheel. A tall white post on the deck of the ship should support the mast and sail (not found in the tomb), which could have been removed while the boat was sailing downstream - as here - against the prevailing northerly wind. Going south (upstream), with a fair wind, the boat could have both a sail and a mast. Meketra could have used such a boat during his lifetime. However, some details of the composition suggest that on this journey, Meketra goes to the afterlife. For example, the flower he holds is the blue lotus, a flower that the Egyptians associated with rebirth. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
In general, these models represented the whole life of Meketr, who held a high position of the king's administrator. Imagine this: an entire room at the back of the tomb was filled with elaborate models of polished and painted wood. Among them were houses, workshops, a slaughterhouse, a bakery and a brewery (how can one live in the next world without bread, beer and meat?), And models of various ships.
Model of an abattoir from the tomb of Meketra. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
But this is nothing more than a bakery. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Among the ship models, some are very interesting. For example, a model of a ship carrying the mummy of a certain Dzhehuti. His mummified body lies on a stretcher under a canopy and is looked after by two women who play the roles of the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, sisters of the god Osiris. Jehuti became a blessed spirit and, in a sense, Osiris himself: because in a short text on a papyrus scroll held by a priest, he refers to the mummy as a deity: "Oh, Osiris."
A group of sailors standing at the mast hoists the sail (not preserved), and four people sit, crouched in front of the mast. Their posture is akin to the so-called "block sculptures" or "cubic sculptures", well known from the art of the Middle Kingdom. It has been argued that this pose indicates that the person presented in this way is participating in rituals. The helmsman and another person next to the stretcher sit in a similar position, although each of them has a free hand for movement.
A boat sailing downstream. The sail is folded, the oars are tied to the hull ... Tomb of Meketra. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Among the pleasures of the life of a noble Egyptian were hunting excursions to the swamps of the Nile for fishing and hunting birds. For such trips, papyrus rafts or light boats like this were used. There is a model of a boat on which Meketra and his son or comrade watch the hunters from a light shelter made of wicker cane and decorated with two large shields. On the bow, two men with harpoons are clearly hunting large fish, while on deck a kneeling fisherman retrieves a harpoon from the fish. The woman brings the catch to Meketra. The presence of women from a noble family in such scenes in the swamps is a very recurring theme in Egyptian art.
Meketra on a boat while fishing. Model dimensions: boat with rudder and oars: length 121,7 cm; height 34,3 cm; width 30,6 cm. Case: length 112,5 cm; width 23,7 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Various religious ceremonies played an important role in the life of the Egyptians. And they knew so much about the "next world" that ... "they lived now" solely for the sake of "living later." To ensure the repose it was necessary to "go to Abydos". This was such a very important religious center for the Egyptians. And not to go to the living, but to the dead. And when it was impossible to take the mummy there, they carried the statue of the deceased. There, rituals were performed over her, after which she was taken back and placed in a memorial church.
Green Rook, approx. 1981-1975 BC e. The hull of this boat is green, its vertical bow, stern curved back and double steering oars imitate the elements of vessels made of papyrus stalks. Even the leather straps covering the bow and stern of such boats are depicted. Boats of this type appear in depictions of the "voyage to Abydos", which has been part of Egyptian funeral ritual since the Middle Kingdom. The ritual nature of this boat trip is clearly indicated by the fact that it is not a living Meketra, but his statue sits under a canopy, accompanied by a companion (possibly his son), while the priests make offerings to her. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
In this photo, the boats are also green, and the way they are painted shows that they are connected from bundles of papyrus. This is how the Egyptians fished ... Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Boat from the tomb of Meketra. OK. 1981-1975 BC e. The boat is sailing in a northerly direction, downstream, against the prevailing northerly wind. Length 117 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
In Egypt, it was easy to determine in which direction a particular ship was sailing. If heading north, the mast was usually folded and supported by a forked support beam, always ready to set up for the return trip. The sail is folded on the deck. The small cabin, located amidships, leaves room for eighteen rowers. Speed is clearly important on this journey. Sitting on a chair on the nose, Meketra brings a closed lotus flower to his nose. Before him stands a man (possibly the captain of the boat), arms folded reverently across his chest. Inside the hut, a servant guards Meketr's chest. Is the general manager on an inspection trip for the pharaoh, and are there bills in this chest? Even if this is a real-life event, the model still has a cult purpose, because the lotus flower, which opens every morning at sunrise, is a symbol of rebirth.
And now a little for those who, seduced by the models of ancient Egyptian boats, decide to do something similar for themselves. On the Internet there are drawings and projections of models of various Egyptian ships, so finding them is not a problem. The problem should be done, and it is desirable in a technique that is as close as possible to the technique of the ancient Egyptians, because it was very interesting. And we know enough about how they built their ships. Firstly, on the basis of reliefs on the walls of temples, and secondly, on the basis of studying the design of "solar boats".
Construction of an ancient Egyptian ship on the wall in the tomb of Ti - the overseer of the pyramids of the pharaohs Niuserra and Neferirkar in Saqqara
Egyptian ships, which originated from knitted papyrus boats, had neither a keel nor frames. They cut out the boards of the required curvature, and then connected them in a very clever way: they made holes in the boards and inserted wooden spikes into them, sawn at the ends and with wedges inserted into the cuts. When the board with its holes was put on the tenons of another, these wedges wedged the tenons, and the connection turned out to be extremely strong. In addition, the body was pulled together with ropes up and down. The ship turned out to be light, strong and load-carrying.
Reconstruction of the image from the tomb at Saqqara
To some extent, the technology of the ancient Egyptians can be repeated as follows. The base of the body is glued from cardboard frames and a diametrical profile. You can make two profiles so that the body blank consists of two halves.
Manufacturing technology of the hull of an Egyptian ship: 1 - deck, 2 - diametrical profile (there may be two of them), 3 - frames, 4 - plasticine, 5 - finished hull made of plasticine, 6 - planking boards made of stirring sticks
Then take the stirring sticks for coffee. They are cut into "boards" of suitable length, which are then attached to plasticine blanks as tightly as possible to each other. The first layer of cladding is obtained. Then the second layer is glued onto it with PVA glue, and so that the joining lines of the boards do not coincide. The body must dry thoroughly, after which the halves are removed from the plasticine base and cleaned with sandpaper from the inside and outside. The deck is laid on the beams. Deck planks are also made from stirring sticks. The rest of the details of the model, 30 cm long - matches, slats, plywood spatulas for ice cream. The model is painted with acrylic paints, but it is quite possible to try to mold the figures of people from plastic!