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Tomb Relief with a Ship Scene

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
The incomplete scene at the top of this fragment of a relief from a tomb shows the legs of two butchers and the massive body of the steer they are cutting up to make offerings of meat for the spirit of the tomb owner.

In the separate scene below, a sailor climbs the rigging of a billowing sail. Ancient ships traveled up the Nile (that is, south) with sails raised, because the prevailing winds came from the north. When going downstream, the crew lowered the mast and used their oars. Two crew members are partially preserved at the bottom edge. One appears to be waving at the climber and shouting the warning inscribed above him, which reads, “Look out for the rope!”
MEDIUM Limestone
  • Place Made: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 2500-2350 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 5
    PERIOD Old Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 23 3/4 x 17 5/16 in. (60.3 x 43.9 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented, reportedly from the Temple of the Dead at Sahure, Egypt but probably from Q920, Saqqara, Egypt; by 1935, acquired by A. Sambon of Paris, France; by 1935, acquired by Kalebdjian Frères, Cairo, Egypt and Paris, France; 1935, purchased from Kalebdjian Frères by the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Fragment of limestone raised relief from a mastaba. Subject: sailor climbing rigging of a vessel. Above, remains of register of slaughtering scene; at right incomplete column of hieroglyphs. Condition: Preserved portion in good condition. Various minor scratches on edges and parts of the surface are pitted. Very faint traces of red and yellow paint still noticeable on background.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Tomb Relief with a Ship Scene, ca. 2500-2350 B.C.E. Limestone, 23 3/4 x 17 5/16 in. (60.3 x 43.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 35.640. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 35.640.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 35.640.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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