Model of an Aegean Ship, Egyptian, Dynasties 19–20, 1295–1069 BC; found in Gurob, Egypt, wood with traces of pigment
The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London, UC16044. Image: copyright of the Petrie museum – UCL Culture, University College London
Female Narrator: This little wooden ship model was found in an unmarked New Kingdom tomb in 1920.
[Strumming lyre and flute sets a wistful mood]
Female Narrator: Although it may not be obvious by looking at it, this was a remarkable find for a couple of reasons. Texas A&M nautical archaeologist Shelley Wachsman explains.
Shelley Wachsman: The Gurob ship cart model is the most detailed representation that exists today of a galley, an oared ship of the type used by the Mycenaean Greeks. These are the Greeks that Homer wrote about. the Bronze Age Greeks …
[Lapping ocean waves fade in]
Actor reading the words of Homer: “On the fifth day we came to fair-flowing Aegyptus, and in the river Aegyptus I moored my curved ships.”
And later the same type of ship was used by migrating groups of peoples known to history as the Sea Peoples.
Female Narrator: Four wheels and other cart pieces were also found in the tomb, evidence that this model would have been pulled on a little wagon. Shelley Wachsman.
[Music and ocean sounds fade out]
Shelley Wachsman: I thought it was a child's toy, and then one day I came across an articledealing with these /cultic ships that were carried by priests in ancient Egypt…
Female Narrator: : Statues of gods were moved during festivals in palanquins shaped like ships. Wachsman has a startling theory about the kind of festival in which this model may have been used.
Shelley Wachsman: That this is a very, very early representation of a Dionysian ship cart...
Female Narrator: (Dionysus being the Greek God of wine and fertility.)
Shelley Wachsman: In the sixth Century BC, we have representations on Greek vases that show a ship of Dionysus on wheels, it's it's actually sort of like a carnival float... and you have an actor playing Dionysius sitting in the boat in a festival.
Female Narrator: Wachsman believes this little painted model all but proves that the Dionysian cult arrived in Egypt together with the Sea Peoples. Like many of the objects in this exhibition, it’s an example of cultural and religious intermingling, what art historians call syncretism.
[Strumming lyre and flute return to close]
Shelley Wachsman: The cult of Dionysus was transferred by these migrating people sometime in the 13th or 12th century BC to Egypt.
[Music fades out]