Figure of a man with a hoe

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The tomb owners of the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC) were determined that their provisions for the Afterlife should last for all eternity. Their tombs were equipped with models of various stages of the process of producing grain for bread, one of the main offerings to maintain the deceased in the Afterlife. The use of a hoe, to break up clods of earth that were too hard for the plough, could make the difference between a poor and a good harvest. This would ultimately affect how much bread was available for offerings to sustain the deceased.The Egyptian view of what the Afterlife would be like changed considerably over time. By the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) the deceased was expected to perform manual labour, especially in the fields, in the Afterlife. In order to avoid this, small shabti figures were included in the tomb. These shabti figures were supposed to work on behalf of the deceased, and were represented carrying agricultural tools. They often held hoes crossed over their chests, ready to start work as soon as they were called.


  • Title: Figure of a man with a hoe
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 33.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Registration number: 1907,0511.155
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Asyut
  • Period/culture: 6th Dynasty
  • Material: wood
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Hogarth, David George

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