Egyptian funerary boat model in the Australian Museum: dating and analysis
The unprovenanced and stylistically unusual wooden boat model (AM E60381) from the Australian Museum collection is examined to assess its identity and age. The analyses of construction method, wood, pigments, and gesso demonstrate the boat’s compatibility with ancient Egyptian craftwork. Three species of wood are identified: cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), sycomore fig (Ficus sycomorus), and sidr (Ziziphus spina-christi). Funerary boat models are distinctly associated with the 11th and 12th dynasties (mid-20th to 19th century BC). Yet eight radiocarbon dates obtained from six separate pieces of wood are between 24th and 16th century BC; six cluster at the late 3rd millennium BC. Conspicuous disparity between these dates and expected chronological context is discussed. Stylistically, resembling a divine (sun) barque, the model has no parallels among comparable representations. With combination of iconographic motifs, construction methods and radiocarbon dates, the model is attributed to the period spanning the late Old Kingdom and the early Middle Kingdom.