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An Analysis of Tomb Reliefs Depicting Boat Construction from the Old Kingdom Period in Egypt

Edward Morgan Rogers
Thesis: May 1996
Chair: Bass
Nautical Archaeology Program

Among the aspects of daily life represented on the walls of private tombs during the Old Kingdom in Egypt are reliefs depicting the construction of boat hulls. Examination of the twenty known reliefs and relief fragments which date to this period provides numerous insights into the technology and methodology of wooden hull construction. These reliefs were created to be blueprints of boat construction procedures but rather to ensure that the owner of the tomb would have boats in his afterlife. The majority of the procedures relate to the final stages of construction prior to the hull being launched. The depiction of the tools necessary for hull construction and how they were used is of great relevance. Hull symmetry was checked with the aid of a plumb bob while adzes were kept ready to remove flatspots. The procedure of joining planks edge-to-edge with mortise-and-tenon joints is represented with great detail in the Ty relief. Joining planks in this manner required a team of men working together while being supervised. Reliefs which show bulls with a rope truss stretching from end to end were used to tighten internal traverse lashed joinery and are not the hogging trusses seen on seagoing ships and cargo vessels. Depictions of various steps required for this procedure in most reliefs suggests that its employment was pervasive.

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