The Tomb of Meketre: Insight to Ancient Egyptian Burials

Type of Tomb

This tomb belonged to Pharaoh Mentuhotep’s chancellor, Meketre.  The tomb of Meketre was a common burial tomb used at the time for officials, a rock-cut tomb. Just as it sounds, the structure of the tomb was carved from existing rock formations. Mostly, the rock architecture is carved from a cliff or sloping rock face. Rock-cut tombs originated in ancient Greece, causing the Egyptian tombs to have Mycenaean influences in their design. So, these types of tombs are seen throughout the Mediterranean.

Ancient Egyptian burial rock cut tomb
Rock cut tomb, similar to Meketre’s

The Tomb of Meketre

The tomb is located in a main necropolis at Thebes, a very popular destination with many different archaeological sites. Due to this though, there are quite a few looters that hang about the area. Unfortunately, the tomb had been looted multiple times over the generations, but luckily one room had gone unseen until it was discovered in 1919.  The room had 25 wooden models, depicting various scenes from everyday life. The purpose of the models was to provide the means to live in the afterlife. With these models, the ancient Egyptians believed that they could then have food and drinks, servants, luxurious clothes, and so much more with models depicting these things. This would allow them to live as or even more lavishly in the afterlife than real life.


Model Bakery and Brewery from the Tomb of Meketre, Wood, gesso, paint, linen
Model of a Bakery and Brewery found in the tomb of Meketre, on display at the Met

Above, this model displays both a bakery and brewery together. The making of bread and beer were quite related in the times of ancient Egypt. They both used the same typical ingredients, grains and barley. Although both had complicated processes, they were still very similar. In this model, an overseer guards the room with a baton. On the right side is the bakery. Here, a man is crushing the grain with a pestle. Others are grinding, working with dough, etc. Next, the other side is the brewery. Overall, what is being shown is the fermentation process, with grain being fermented in the pots.

Model Cattle stable from the tomb of Meketre, Plastered and painted wood, gesso
Model of a cattle stable found in the tomb of Meketre, on display at the Met

Next, the model above consists of cattle being fattened up with fodder for slaughter. There are cattle managers feeding the animals as well as an overseer at the entrance. The overseer has a baton and is prepared if an animal decides to try and escape.

Similar Model

model; barge | British Museum
Model of a funerary barge, similar to what is found in the tomb of Meketre. On display at the British Museum

Lastly, the model above is one that is often compared to those found in Meketre’s tomb. Again, since many tombs have been raided prior to being found by academics, these models are not easily seen. But, they allow incredible insight to the belief in the afterlife. For example, this one is from the Middle Kingdom and depicts a funerary barge. Much like the previous models, this one is also related to the afterlife. It was believed that these boats would help the deceased to be transported to the afterlife. This would happen while the soul was judged. If one was deemed good, this boat would take them to the “Field of Reeds”. Essentially, that was the afterlife of pure bliss and happiness. Once again, displaying the importance of the afterlife, even in the burials and tombs after one has died.

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