Ploughing for eternity
Models of daily life were popular in ancient Egypt from as early as the Old Kingdom. Egyptians believed that burying models of things or activities they were familiar with in their life, will help them to be able to access the same in the afterlife. This resulted in us inheriting a large number of wonderful models of daily life activities, from the times of the Old Kingdom throughout the First Intermediate period and into the Middle Kingdom.
The model we would like to share with you today is The Ploughing Peasant. Several models of ploughing have survived the times and many show very similar equipment. The simple plough is drawn by a yoke of oxen. These hook shaped ploughs were made of wood. As the ground was covered with a thick layer of the soft Nile silt deposited by the river, this equipment did not need to turn the soil, it merely opened it up so that the seeds could be planted deep enough.
The peasant's feet are sunk into the muddy ground, but interestingly the animals do not appear to have sunk as he did. While peasants in ancient Egypt did appear to have owned the farm equipment, animals often had to be leased from institutions of temples or the state. To own cattle was a sign of high standing for a peasant in ancient Egypt.
This painted wood model is from the early 12th dynasty, Middle Kingdom. It's a nice size at about 50 cms long (almost 19 5/8") and 20 cms high (7 7/8"). It is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number: 36.5
Want to see other models? Check out one of our favourite, "Niankh-Pepi's servant" here.