Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

From the Pharaoh's coffin 1990 BCE

This resource is part of the Museum Snapshot collection - a collection of smaller resources perfect for starters, plenaries or spare moments to explore something fascinating.

Simple wooden flat-topped boat with four pairs of kneeling figures and a single figure at the back with a steering oar.
Wooden Funerary Boat from 1990 BCE

Resource created by Hull Museums

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

This wooden funerary boat was part of a group recovered from the coffin of a courtier to the Pharaoh, 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.   


Close up image of the pairs of rowers, their faces are still very distinct.  They have black painted hair and black and white painted eyes.
Detail from a Wooden Funerary Boat 1990 BCE

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.

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?