Egypt, Eighteenth or nineteenth century BCE
MS HT 110
A wooden steering rudder from the stern of a model funerary boat, which has survived from its original location in an ancient Egyptian tomb. Model boats placed in graves of the deceased were common in the Middle Kingdom period. The model boat in its complete form would have consisted of a carved hull, several human figures each with an oar, and a single figure in the stern holding a larger steering rudder. Egyptians believed death to be a journey, and the boat symbolized the transport of the dead person or their soul, from life to the afterlife, using the current of the Nile to travel North. The rudder was found with the papers of the Egyptologist Professor Stephen Glanville (1900–56) who is also the author the foremost descriptive work on model funerary boats. His Wooden model boats was published by the British Museum in 1972.