The Náprstek Museum – Prague, Czech Republic

All the photographs on this XY2 Fan Page were shot at the exhibition entitled
Thebes : City of Gods and Pharaohs, held at the museum between the
25th October 2007 and the 24th February 2008. The objects
displayed reflected the long and extraordinarily rich history of the
area of Upper Egyptian Thebes. One entire room at the exhibition was
devoted to Deir el-Medina. The majority of the objects from Deir el-
Medina were acquired in 1937 as a gift to the National Museum from
the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo. The gift
consisted of a set of 227 objects. Jaroslav Černý worked as a
member of the expedition of the Institute. Other objects were
acquired as gifts from Černý’s private collection.  
The exhibition was accompanied by a detailed catalogue dedicated to
Jaroslav Černý, and edited by the exhibition curator Pavel Onderka.

Reconstruction of funerary equipment: coffin, bed, 
basketry and pottery as shown at the exhibition
From Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom

From Deir el-Medina
Wood, plant material
Lenght: 169 cm

Ancient Egyptian houses would have been sparsely furnished by modern 
standards. Beds along with chairs, stools and boxes, were the most 
common items. The vast majority of surviving furniture is made of wood. 
The exhibited bed comprises a simple wooden frame, jointed at the 
corners, and upholstered with stretched matting, part of which has  
been preserved until today. It is woven of plant material and used to be 
attached to the bed frame from below, preventing the surface from 
sagging too much.

Basket with dom palm fruits
From the Eastern cemetery at Deir el-Medina
P1438 Diameter: 33 cm, height: 11 cm
P1635 dom palm (hyphaene thebaica) fruits
Former collection of Jaroslav Černý
Small flat baskets like this one served only 
for the storage of food.

Basketry had a wide range of uses in ancient Egypt partly due to the scarcity of wood. The 
products served many functions: from baskets for the storage of food and linen or transporting 
materials to furniture parts, ropes, brushes, mats and sandals. The materials used to make the 
products were readily available in the Nile Valley. Papyrus stems (Cyperus papyrus) and leaves of 
the dom palm (Hyphaena thebaica) were the most commonly used.

Basket with a lid
From the Eastern cemetery at Deir el-Medina
Lenght: 48 cm, width: 36 cm, height: 28 cm
Former collection of Jaroslav Černý
Storage baskets were indispensable items in 
the daily life of the ancient inhabitants, and 
they also had an important part to play as 
part of the burial equipment.

Pottery is among to the most frequent archaeological finds at Deir el-Medina. Two types of clay 
were used in ancient Egypt to make pottery: Nile clay (red to brown) and calcareous clay (yellow 
to light green). The pottery items were either formed by hand or made on potter’s wheel. Since 
the earliest periods the pottery surface was decorated by painting, etching, brandishing or 
hammering. The common household pottery was usually undecorated.

Group of pottery from Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom
A – P1460
Height: 37 cm
Red clay
An example of a beer-jar. It is a tall jar with a wide and low 
neck and a simple rim, flat bottom and the maximum roundness in 
the upper part of the vessel.        
B – P1511
Simple plate of red clay, decorated with painted white spots
C – P1450
Height: 30 cm
Red clay
A simple round jar with a wide neck. The lower part of the vessel 
is decorated with a simple motif.
Objects D, E and F all come from Sennefer’s tomb 1159.
D -P1501
Diameter: 27 cm
Large red bowl. High gloss of the surface is the result of polishing.
E – P1512
Narrow flask
Height: 26 cm
F – P1508
Small bowl made of grey clay. The surface is painted red.

This anthropomorphic coffin was discovered by Bruyère during the season 
of 1934-1935 in the Eastern cemetery at Deir el-Medina, in the tomb 
no. 1380. It belonged to a woman called Nehemet. The coffin is an 
example of so-called white coffin, used since the beginning of the New 
Kingdom until the reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. They were 
replaced by so-called black coffins.
The shape of the coffin is almost rectangular, narrowing towards the 
feet. The face and the feet are modelled in relief. The small planks, 
assembling the coffin, are painted with stucco and the surface was 
decorated. The vertical hieroglyphic inscription within the yellow band 
contains an offering formula 
“An offering which the king gives (to) 
Osiris, lord of Djedu, great god, lord of Abydos, so that he may give a 
voice offering (in) bread, beer, ox, fowl, all good things, incense and 
excellent life for the ka of Nehemet”.

White coffin for Nehemet
Wood (ficus sycomorus), stucco, 
Length: 184 cm
18th dynasty, before the reign 
of Akhenaten
Eastern cemetery, tomb no. 1380

A pair of amphorae
Pottery. Clay of grey colour
From the area of Deir el-Medina
P1446 – on the left – was discovered by the 
French expedition in the tomb of Sennefer. His 
name is written in the narrowing part of the 
vessel. The surface bears traces of spilled liquid.
Height: 68 cm
P1445 is of a more rounded shape, which was 
typical for amphorae of the 1st half of the 18th 

The most commonly used material in the making of Egyptian clothing was linen. Cloth was at first 
made on simple horizontal looms, replaced during the New Kingdom by vertical looms. Dying was used 
to colour and decorate the textiles – the individual fibres could be dyed before weaving or a brush 
was applied to the finished cloth. In general the clothing was simple: ordinary men wore loincloths 
or short kilts and shirt-like garments, women wore sheath-dresses with broad shoulder straps, 
later replaced with only one strap.
In some Deir el-Medina tombs discoveries of whole wardrobes full of shirts, loin-cloths, tunics for 
winter wear were made. The textile had their owner’s laundrymarks, and it is known now that the 
settlement had its professional laundrymen attached to it.

Piece of patterned textile
From Deir el-Medina
The piece of cloth, probably part 
of a linen coat, is decorated with 
a netting pattern, consisting of 
blue-green lines and white dots.

From Deir el-Medina
Ramesside period
Lenght: 29 cm, diameter 14 cm.
The tool is made of a single piece of local wood. It 
was cut from the part of the tree, where it branches 
into two. The middle of the head is filled with the 
remains of bark. The  mallet was used for hard work 
– for rough working of stone or for tomb digging.

Grass (Ceruana pratensis Forks) 
and palm fibre
Length: 27 cm
Brooms and brushes were used in 
households in Deir el-Medina. The 
body of the broom is made of the 
strong stalks of grass, tied 
together with string made from 
palm fibres. This was the most 
common type of broom found at the 
village. The grass stalks were tied 
together in the middle, bent and 
tied again. This broom shows 
evidence of intensive usage.

Basket with a lid
From the Eastern cemetery at 
Deir el-Medina
Height: 17 cm, 53 x 36 cm

Sandals are known from depictions and as archaeological finds since the Old Kingdom. During
the New Kingdom several types of sandals developed: pointed or round sandals, sandals with
an open front or with the tip turned back and attached to a buckle.   
Three basic types of sandals were found at Deir el-Medina:
1. sandals made of strings woven out of palm fibres
2. sandlas made of strips of palm leaves, payrus and reed and
3. sandals made of leather.

Palm leaves
Deir el-Medina
Former collection of Jaroslav Černý

Figured ostrakon
19th-20th dynasty
Height: 29.6 cm ; width: 20 cm
Black, red and blue pigment
Donated to the museum by Cyril Dusek, the Czechoslovak 
ambassador in Cairo.
The ostrakon was broken into two pieces and has been 
glued together.
It bears the drawing of a Ramesside king seated on a 
throne. He wears a white gown with short sleeves and is 
adorned with a wide collar and a pectoral. He wears a 
blue crown on his head with an attached uraeus. He holds 
a long staff in his right hand and another object (possibly 
a papyrus roll) in his left hand.
The king is facing a vertical line of a hieroglyphic 
inscription, reading 
“Good god, Lord of the Two Lands, 
[name of the king missing] may he live forever!”

The ostrakon below contains a letter from a woman called Takhentyshepset to her sister Iyet, 
written in Late Egyptian language in hieratic script. The eleven lines are read from right to left. The 
text is written in black ink.
Although the writing is that of an experienced scribe, and some Egyptologists think the letter was
dictated by the woman, Jac Janssen told me, he believed the letter was written by Takhentyshepset
personally as literacy among women in Deir el-Medina was high. The greeting formula is followed by a
request, directed at the sister, to have the barley, that Takhentyshepset was sending to her,
ground. Emmer was to be added to it and bread was to be made from it for her. Takhentyshepset is
trying to silence her husband Merimaat’s complaints that her mother and siblings never do anything
for her and do not bring them food and he threatens Takhentyshepset with divorce.

Hieratic ostrakon
Possibly from Deir el-Medina
Height: 14.9 cm ; Width: 11.5 cm
P 2027
Former collection of Jaroslav Černý (bought by Černý in Luxor in 1930s)

“Takhentyshepset writes to her sister Iyet. 
In life, prosperity and health! She says: I will 
send to you barley and you will let it be 
ground for me, and you will let emmer be 
added to it and then have breads made out of 
it for me, because I am arguing with (my 
husband) Merimaat. “I will repudiate you,” he 
says, when he argues with me and my mother 
about the supply of barley for bread. “Look, 
your mother is doing nothing for you,” he says 
to me and maintains: “(Although) you have 
brothers and sisters, they do not care about 
you at all,” and he argues with me daily: 
“(Takhentyshepset), look, what have you done 
for me since I have dwelled here (with you), 
while all (other) people daily bring to their 
relatives bread, beer and fish! Shortly you 
should say something (or) return back home”. 
It is good if you take notice”.

Hieratic ostrakon – the verso
The end of the 19th/ beginning 
of the 20th dynasty
Most possibly from Deir el-Medina
Width: 44.5 cm
P 3801
Gift of Jaroslav Černý
Contains 3 columns with 3 
different lists and 2 smaller 
texts in several short lines.

Ostraka with the cartouches of Ramesses II
New Kingdom, 19th dynasty, reign of Ramesses II
Probably from Deir el-Medina
P3814 – on the left – height: 14.5 cm, width: 13.4 cm
P3837 – height: 9.5 cm, width: 12.4 cm
The cartouches with the names (nomen and prenomen) of King Ramesses II and his titles: 
“Lord of the 
two Lands, Usermaatre Setepenre, Lord of the Crowns Meriamon Ramesses”.
The ostraka could have been exercise pieces for the scribes. The recto bear texts of economic 

From the southern part of the Eastern 
cemetery at Deir el-Medina
Height: 14 cm
Width: 23 cm
Lenght: 45 cm
P 1421
Both chests below served as children’s 
coffins. It is not possible to decide, 
whether this was their primarily use or not.

The name of the deceased child is preserved 
on the side of the chest – Iryky.

Shabti (Egyptian ushabti, shawabti) is a funerary figurine, usually in mummiform appearance, which 
developed during the Middle Kingdom out of the funerary statuettes provided in the tombs of the Old 
Kingdom. The purpose of the shabtis was to spare their owner from labour in the afterlife, which 
would be required for the deceased to produce the food. The figures stood in for both the deceased 
(in whose name they would answer the call to work) and the servants of the deceased. Some shabtis 
are uninscribed but most have inscriptions of parts of Chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead (known as 
the “shabti chapter”. The quality of shabtis and their material varies widely. The most commonly 
used material associated with shabtis is faience, although wood, clay, wax, stone, bronze and glass 
shabtis are known.

Shabti for Khabekhenet
From tomb TT2, the Western cemetery at Deir el-Medina
Limestone, painted
19th dynasty, reign of Ramesses II
Height: 20.8 cm
Khabekhenet was the eldest son of Sennedjem (TT1). He lived 
during the reign of Ramesses II (1279-1212 BC). He had a 
title “Servant in the Place of Truth”. He lived in Deir 
el-Medina and worked in the royal tombs at the Valley of the 

Fragment of a coffin lid or a 
Wood, Nile mud, gesso, pigment
3rd Intermediate period – late 21st 
dynasty (about 980 BC)
From Deir el-Medina
Length: 54 cm
Width: 22 cm

Fragment of the vizier Amenemhat’s sarcophagus
Wood, painted
2nd Intermediate Period, late 13th-17th dynasty
From Deir el-Medina, tomb 1200
Height: 89 cm
Width: 98 cm
The tomb of Amenemhat was discovered by the 
French Institute during the season of 1929. It 
contained remains of the burial equipment, 
including two fragments of sarcophagus, canopic 
chest and a lid of a canopic jar. This fragment 
comes from the head end of the sarcophagus, 
which was made of wood. Its surface was 
covered with a layer of stucco.

The reddish base is decorated by brush strokes in red and 
black paint to imitate red Aswan granite.
The fragment contains one complete horizontal line and two 
incomplete columns of hieroglyphic text mentioning the epithets, 
title and the name of the deceased.
Amenemhat’s tomb represents one of the oldest attestations 
of building activity in the area of Deir el-Medina.

Lid of a rishi coffin
Wood, painted
Early 18th dynasty
From Deir el-Medina, tomb 1389
Lenght: 184 cm
The lid was discovered by Bernard Bruyère during the season 
1934-1935 in the tomb 1389 in the Eastern cemetery.

The pottery objects below are funerary cones. They were 
used as an architectural feature in tombs of private 
individuals and were inserted, with their faces exposed, into 
the plaster as a frieze above the entrance into the tombs. 
They were hand-modelled and their bases were stamped with 
text, giving the name and title(s) of the owner, sometimes 
adding names of the relatives or a dedication.

Funerary cone of Nakhy, Servant in the Place 
of Truth, craftsman
From tomb 1138 at Deir el-Medina, 
excavated by Bruyère during the 1928 season
Dynasty 18th – dynasty 19th
Length: 14.3 cm
Diameter of the circular base: 6.3 cm
The inscription gives the name of the owner

Funerary cone of Nakhy, Servant in the Place 
of Truth, craftsman
From tomb 1138 at Deir el-Medina
Dynasty 18th – dynasty 19th
Length: 20.6 cm
Diameter of the circular base: 7.3 cm
The cone is painted red. Traces of white 
paint also remain.
The inscription is written in 4 lines: 
Nakhy, his sister, mistress of the house, 

Two funerary cones made for  Amenwahsu
scribe of the royal army of the Lord of the 
Two Lands
Also from the tomb 1138 at Deir el-Medina
Amenwahsu was the son of Nakhy and 
Turn of the 18th and 19th dynasties
Length: 15.2 cm
Diameter of the circular base: 6 cm
The inscription is written in four columns. It 
gives the owner’s name and also the name of 
his wife.
“Osiris, Amenwahsu, his hister, 
Lady of the house Meretre.

Length: 15 cm
Diameter of the circular base: 6.1 cm
The is almost complete, the point is missing.
Remains of red coat are present.

Fragment of a top of a stirrup vase
Terracotta, decorated
New Kingdom, 18th dynasty
From Deir el-Medina
Dimensions: 6.3 x 9.7 x 6.1 cm
The upper part of the false neck is decorated with 
simple spiral motives in reddish black pigment over 
an ochre slip. One of the  handles is intact, the 
other one is broken off in the lower part.

Pottery vessel
Red clay, decorated in horizontal black stripes
New Kingdom
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 36 cm
Former collection of Jaroslav Černý

Pottery vessel
New Kingdom
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 24 cm
The vessel has a rounded body with a short 
neck and a pair of roughly executed handles.

Pottery vessel
New Kingdom
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 14.5 cm
The small jug has got a long neck, a small vertical handle placed 
between the neck and the round body. It is painted in cream colour 
and its body is decorated by two triplets of red and black stripes.

Pottery vessel
New Kingdom
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 13.5 cm
The following three vessels have short broad neck, 
funnel-shaped mouth, wide shuttle-shaped body and 
rounded or slightly pointed bottom. They were made on 
potter’s wheel.

Pottery vessel
New Kingdom
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 17.5 cm
This vessel has retained its original content 
(possibly of cosmetic nature – literary evidence 
from the village documents that sesame and 
castor anointing oils were included in the 
worker’s pay packet). It was closed by a plug 
and a still partially preserved plaster sealing 
with a floral motif executed in black, light grey 
and light green colours.

Pottery vessel
New Kingdom
From Deir el-Medina
Height: 11.1 cm
The vessel is decorated with horizontal stripes of 
red-brown colour over a slip of cream colour.

1. Země pyramid a faraonů : starověky Egypt ve sbirkách Náprstkova muzea = 
The land of pyramids and pharaohs : Ancient Egypt in the Náprstek museum 
Praha : Národní Museum, 1997.
2.Théby : město bohů a faraónů = Thebes : city of gods and pharaohs /      
Jana Mynářová & Pavel Onderka (eds.)
Praha : Národní Museum, 2007.
3. Suková, Lenka: Funerary cones in the Czech republic. In: Annals of the 
Naprstek Museum 25, Prague 2004
London: British Museum Press, 1995.
5. Betts, Hannah: The eyes have it in The Sunday Times Magazine, 17th 
November 2007, p. 59-62.

Author: DonFletcher

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