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Egyptian Watercraft Models from the Predynastic to Third Intermediate Periods

Ann Merriman


The primary goal of this study is the reclassification of Egyptian watercraft models from the standard 1898 George Reisner Typology. The Reisner Typology was based on hull shape, aesthetic attributes, age, and the function of the watercraft as if it were‘real’. Further, the 1990 Dilwyn Jones Typology of the New Kingdom Tutankhamun flotilla that does not follow Reisner, was based on aesthetic attributes, practical or ‘magical’ function, steering mechanisms, and certain deck fittings. This new study sets out a new classification scheme for Ancient Egyptian watercraft models that recognizes the major nautical structural attributes incorporated into the model hulls that in different combinations indicate the construction of these artifacts as if they were ‘real’. Out of this, other goals are also accomplished such as an analysis of certain nautical attributes, both major and minor structural components that through their development over time can be indicators of the evolution of certain Egyptian nautical technologies geographically and temporally. Further, another secondary objective includes the recognition of site specific or regional patterns in watercraft design that may reflect the conditions of a geographic area based upon hull forms, quality, colour, iconography, and the equAment on-board. Additionally, the design and inclusion of non-nautical attributes such as human figures, objects of daily life, and implements of war can often suggest provenance to artifacts that lack context. Lastly, other identified factors can affect model outcome including the talent of the model builder, raw material availability, economic and political climates, and the requirements of the model watercraft’s owner.