||Life in Ancient Egypt
Natural World: The Carnegie Boat
During his 1894–95
field season, Jacques de Morgan, a French archaeologist, excavated at
Dashur, a site located about thirty-three kilometers (20.5 mi.) south
of Cairo. His work focused upon Senwosret III's pyramid complex. Outside
of the southern enclosure wall, he uncovered approximately six wooden
boat burials and a sledge used to drag the boats from the water across
the sand to the pyramid complex. The records concerning our boat's excavation
are sketchy, but its decided structural similarity to other boats known
to be from this site suggests that Dashur was the original location of
the Carnegie boat.
This boat's function
is not fully understood; but based on analysis of the Carnegie boat's
structure and its probable burial location, approximately six boats may
have been involved, in some unknown manner, in the burial ritual. The
Carnegie boat's weak structure indicates that it could have been used
in the water for only a very short period of time. Most likely larger
vessels towed these boats across the Nile as they carried burial equipment
or members of the cortege. As ritual equipment, the boats could not have
been easily discarded, and their reuse in another ceremony would have
been unlikely because of their weak structure. Therefore, burial alongside
the pyramid complex's enclosure wall would have correctly disposed of
them as ritual equipment and, at the same time, made them available to
the king, if needed, in the afterlife.
Royal Funerary Boat
Dynasty XII, reign of Senwosret III
(ca. 1878-1859 B.C.)
Length 9.2 m; width 2.3 m; depth 0.9 m
Excerpted from Reflections of Greatness:
Ancient Egypt at The Carnegie Museum of Natural History by Diana Craig Patch.
© 1990 The Board of Trustees, Carnegie Institute.