Painted wooden model showing bakers at work

From Asyut, Egypt
12th Dynasty, around 1900 BC

Bread making was part of the day to day provisioning of palaces, ordinary households, temples and tombs. Models placed inside tombs were intended to capture the most characteristic elements of the process in order that it be continued throughout eternity. The bread making model from the tomb of king Nebhetepres Mentuhotep II, also in The British Museum, shows four component operations: grinding, sifting, kneading and baking. It also shows the production of bread on an industrial scale.

This model is much more modest. It shows only kneading and baking, but the process is still recognizable. The small number of figures is balanced by the details incorporated into the modelling. The faces of the men are carefully painted, with intent expressions. The muscles on the chest of the rear figure show the effort that he is putting in to the kneading, which has caused flour to pour off the front of his work station. The foremost figure shields his face against the heat produced when he pokes the fire with a metal prod. The fire is cleverly shown using stacks of polygonal shapes, painted a fiery red.

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More information


W. Seipel, Ägypten: Götter, Gräber und di (Linz, 1980)

M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

C.A.R. Andrews, Egyptian mummies (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


Length: 41.900 cm

Museum number

EA 45197


Excavated by D. G. Hogarth


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