Model plough, hoe or ard with modern stringing. 32cm long. See Brovarski, et al. (1982 p 46) and Petrie (1917, 54, pl. LXVIII, 62) for a similar examples. Such items were used for breaking up the soil in preparation for sowing, the ritual of the breaking of the soil, but also in brick making. Small examples are carried by shabtis.
We do now know if this item was found in a settlement or grave though working hoes/ards were certainly used as funerary items (Spencer 1980, 92). If this was found in a grave it was probably belonged to an elite person who would not have used it in everyday life. Instead it had a ritual significance. Nibbi (1978) explains that hoes are depicted iconographically as a symbol of foundation. The ritual of the Hoeing of the Earth is apparent on papyri and coffins from the Third Intermediate Period (Niwiński 1987-88).
Farming in ancient Egypt was very labour intensive. All farming tasks were carried out by manual labour with the occasional use of cattle to pull ploughs. Very little is known of the lives of the ancient Egyptian farmer. Most of those working the land would have been illiterate and thus unlikely to leave any history behind.
Modern day farming in small villages in Egypt has changed little and tools used in ancient Egyptian times are used today. For example, the shaduf, a hand operated irrigation tool is still used.
This item would also have been instrumental in making the mud bricks with which the majority of buildings were made in ancient Egypt.
The Egypt Centre has two other model ards (EC291 and EC703).
Brovarski, E., Doll, SK and Freed, RE., 1982. Egypt’s Golden Age: the art of living in the New Kingdom. 1558-1085. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Nibbi, A. 1978. ‘The Hoe as a Symbol of Foundation in Some Early Egyptian Reliefs’ Gottinger Miszellen, 29, 89-94.
Niwinski, A. 1987-188. The Solar-Osirian Unity as a principal of the theology of the ‘State of Amun’ in Thebes in Dynasty 21. Jaarbericht van het vooraziat-egyptische Genootschap 30, 89-106.
Petrie, W.M.F. 1917. Tools and Weapons. London: British School of Archaeology in Egypt.
Spencer, A.J. 1980. Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum V. Early Dynastic Objects. London.