Ancient dioramas

We all know that Egyptian tombs contained models of servants, boats, and animals to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. But they sometimes also contained model gardens, granaries, bakeries, breweries, stables, and slaughterhouses.

Funerary granary
Keith Schengili-Roberts / CC BY-SA

Most ancient Egyptian tombs were looted millennia ago, and so we don’t know much about their contents. But on some rare occasions the tombs weren’t looted until early 20th century archaeologists dug them up and apportioned out the contents.

(Side note: apparently Etruscan funerary goods had the word śuθina – meaning “from a tomb” – carved on them to expose tomb-robbers. I guess that would only work if the looters or their clients spoke Etruscan.)

One prominent find came from the tomb of Meketre, an important Egyptian official buried around four thousand years ago. The main area of the tomb had been robbed long ago, but archaeologists discovered a hidden side-room. That side-room contained wooden models, little dioramas really,  depicting scenes of ancient Egyptian life. Meketre was chief steward, responsible for the estates that supplied food for the pharaohs, so in addition to the granary above these models included a bakery / brewery:

Funerary bakery and brewery
Keith Schengili-Roberts / CC BY-SA

A stable for cattle:

Funerary stable
Keith Schengili-Roberts / CC BY-SA

And a slaughterhouse:

Funerary slaughterhouse
Keith Schengili-Roberts / CC BY-SA

I’m quite fond of the funeral garden diorama myself:

Funerary garden
Keith Schengili-Roberts / CC BY-SA

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