Fishing and Offering Bearers (detail)
Limestone, pigment
Third Intermediate Period - Late Period, Dynasties 25-26,
ca. 690-664 B.C.
Luxor, Tomb of Mentuemhet
Purchased in Oakland, CA., 1948
OIM 17973

Egypt has always been a land defined by the Nile River. Before the Aswan Dam was completed in 1971, the predictable yearly flooding of the river left behind a new layer of fertile soil each fall, assuring a healthy crop of food for the Egyptians.

This colorful fragment from the wall of a tomb was once part of a complete scene. It illustrates the importance of the Nile River and the bountiful food supply that it gave to the Egyptians. Above are the legs of the overseer of a fishing expedition. He stands on the riverbank directing the activity. Below him, a fish hides in the safety of the river plants as the fishing net trolls the river. In the lower register, women carry baskets of food. The hieroglyphic text situated before one of the women tells us that she carries bread in her basket. The food that the land produced included figs, garden produce, fruit, meat, fish, and grains.