Ancient Egyptian Funerary Boat

From the Pharoah's coffin 1990 BCE

This is a Yorkshire World Collections object, one of 100 chosen by young people aged 16-24, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

This wooden funerary boat was part of a group recovered from the coffin of a courtier to the Pharoah, and dates back 4,000 years to 1990 BCE. Funerary boats such as these were placed in graves in the Middle Kingdom period of Egypt to help transport the deceased in the afterlife. The model has four pairs of oarsmen (missing their oars) and a single figure in the stern holding a steering oar. Although the precise details are not known, it is believed that the boat was excavated by John Garstang between 1902-1904 from Beni Hasan in Egypt.   

The wooden funerary boat model found its way into the private collection of Albert Reckitt of Reckitt and Sons Ltd., one of Hull's largest established companies. Some years later, probably in the mid-1930s, Reckitt donated the boat to Hull Museums where it seems to have been displayed at the Museum of Fisheries and Shipping at Pickering Park.


National Curriculum Links

History KS1: Ancient Egypt

Learning outcomes

  • To identify connections between current cultures and ancient cultures (beliefs – the afterlife)
  • To demonstrate understanding of the concept of civilization

Discussion Ideas:

  • Why do you think the symbol of a boat was used in a ritual to do with the afterlife?
  • What other forms of transport were there 4000 years ago?
  • Why do you think boats were the symbolic form of transport compared with others?
  • We use different kinds of transport for funerals today, what different ones can you think of, and what do they reflect?

Young person's response to this object:

I find different perceptions of the afterlife extremely interesting. The
boat’s purpose is fantastic and at the time it most likely would have held extreme significance and importance. Jordan Keighley

This is a Google map to the part of Egypt referred to as the Middle Kingdom.

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