Boats in Heirakonpolis Tomb 100
and Gebel el-Arak Knife

We encounter boats in this famous painted tomb, and on this famous knife.

I include these two items because they help us build the catalogue of boats known to Egyptians in the era of 4,000 to 3,500 BC.

The Gebel el-Arak Knife

Most Egytologists accept that the Gebel al-Arak knife shows definite ties to Mesopotamia. This is shown by the hero figure, with a full beard and skull cap.

Note the two types of boats. On the bottom of the obverse are three sickle type boats with cabins and other objects. Above these are two incurved square boats with a cabin, strange objects on the stern of the boats, and standards. The strange objects are located at the very top of the incurve. The standard is a quarter-moon like object with a small ball in the center. The details are so few we cannot deduce much more about these boats.

The Tomb 100 Painting


Click on above picture to obtain a large image.

None of these boats show rowers.

The boat on the left shows two cabins, with a frond on the bow. Loops are present on the cabins.

The next boat to the right shows two cabins with what appears to be an awning between the two. This has a frond on the bow, and a paddle for steering operated by a human figure on the stern. Loops are present on the cabins. A captain's cabin may be on the left next to the frond. The human figure on the left with out-flung arms may be dancing. We have considerable other human activity but undecipherable.

The next boat has two cabins, a frond, and what may be a captain's cabin next to the frond. The two cabins have loops. A standard is near the cabin toward the stern. The picture of this boat has deteriorated somewhat. Peculiar to this boat and the preceding one is a band near the center of the structure, where we would expect a gap between rowers.

The fourth boat has two cabins, and a frond. We cannot say much more about this boat.

The fifth boat with a high bow is drawn in a dark color. It has an oar sticking out, a frond, a captian's cabin, two other cabins, cabin loops, and a large object that may be an awning.

The sixth boat repeats these themes, but not drawn clearly.

Many animal scenes are present. There may be a depiction of a human figures slaying others. Some of the scenes may be represent hunting scenes.

We can see that the boats represented here are very similar to boats on pottery, and to what we will find on rock art.

We shall find these themes in boats depicted on rock art.

Main bibliographic references for the Hierakonpolis painted tomb 100:

J.E. Quibell - F.W. Green, Hierakonpolis II (1902) 20f., pl 67, 75-79;

J. Vandier, Manuel I (1952), 561-571;

H. Case - J. Crowfoot-Payne, Tomb 100: the Decorated Tomb at Hierakonpolis, in: JEA 48 (1962), 5-18;

J. Crowfoot-Payne, Tomb 100: The Decorated Tomb at Hierakonpolis Confirmed, in: JEA 59 (1973), 31-35;

B.J. Kemp, Photographs of the Decorated Tomb at Hierakonpolis, in: JEA 59 (1973), 36-43;

K.M. Cialowicz, La Naissance du Royaume (2001), 100f., 157-161.