In her 1989 study of ancient Egyptian tomb models and related material, Angela Tooley noted that, although models are known to have originated in northern Upper Egypt between the sites of Naga ed-Deir and Rifeh, few models from the region are actually published. In her analysis she was able to include only eight models excavated from the Naga ed-Deir cemeteries, which were documented in a few unpublished excavation photographs. As a result, not only were Tooley's specific findings on the Naga ed-Deir model corpus limited, but some of her general conclusions regarding the chronological and regional developments of tomb model types were problematic.
The collection of tomb models from Naga ed-Deir is significant because it is extensive, it spans the major phases of model production from the late Old Kingdom to the late Middle Kingdom, and it is well documented. The tomb models were recovered during the excavations lead by George A. Reisner under the auspices of the Hearst Egyptian Expedition and the joint Harvard University/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Expedition between 1901 and 1924. Tomb models were found in 62 documented tombs and other unrecorded contexts. The entire known corpus of models from Naga ed-Deir is included in the present study: 25 single statuettes, 15 scenes and 553 fragments of single, paired and grouped compositions. The majority of the models occur in Tooley’s established core repertoire: boats, people carrying supplies, granaries and kitchens. Other less common categories of models not in Tooley’s core group are entertainment, craft production, military combat, priests and overseers. Most of the models are today housed in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley; additional material is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
The goals of this dissertation were twofold: first, to produce a detailed analysis of the tomb models in each phase of production represented at Naga ed-Deir; and second, to compare this material with Tooley’s chronological scheme for Egypt as a whole and her identification of regional patterns for Upper Egypt, in order to determine how Naga ed-Deir conformed to, or differed from, her identified trends. I studied the archaeological context of the Naga ed-Deir models, noting patterns in tomb distribution, grave types and tomb inscriptions, as well as the quality and range of the associated burial goods. In addition, I noted trends in the disposition of the models within the tombs. My study revealed patterns in social status and gender of ownership, typology, forms, materials, production techniques, artistic styles, qualities and quantities for the models. I analyzed changes in these patterns over time to illustrate the evolution of the tomb model corpus at this site.
In my comparisons of the Naga ed-Deir data with Tooley’s findings, I observed many similarities in the social ranks and genders of model owners. While some model disposition patterns at Naga ed-Deir are comparable to Tooley’s findings, there also seem to be differences in model placement and orientation. Since my analysis was based on limited data, however, the results cannot be more conclusive. In my investigation of the models themselves, I found some aspects of the Naga ed-Deir corpus to be comparable to those from other sites, and others to be unique to Naga ed-Deir. In particular, it is the prevalence of a variety of late Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period model types that makes the tomb model repertoire from this provincial site so significant.
My examination of the extensive and well-documented Naga ed-Deir tomb model corpus is significant because it fills a void in our knowledge of tomb model corpora in the northern region of Upper Egypt. My findings reinforce some of Tooley’s general conclusions regarding the chronological development of model production throughout Egypt and the regional patterning that occurs within Upper Egypt, and contradict others.