Linen (Linus usitatissimum)
Pre-dynastic Period, Naqada II (3700 -3200 BC)
Provenance: Gebelein, excavation of Farina, 1930
Inv. Nr. S. 17138
These painted fragments of textile were found in a Pre-dynastic burial, but were not used to wrap the corpse, set as they were at his side. The texture of the linen establishes that the fabric was woven on a horizontal loom with two sticks supported by four pegs as on another from a female tomb dated one millennium earlier. Two ships appear on these fragments: one is many-oared ship with cabin, oarsmen and commander; whereas the other shows a single oarsman and a passenger. On further fragments from the same tomb, female figures dance or act as spectators who watch a man as he spears a hippopotamus. Nilotic scenes such as these, especially with the spearing of the hippopotamus (possibly a protective image which protected one from the beast that menaced boatman) had a long tradition in Egyptian art, well into the Roman Period. Not far from this tomb, one at Hierokonpolis was provided with plaster walls which were similarly painted (now in the Cairo Museum). Both tombs are related in their content and style to the painted pottery of the Naqada II Period, which was disseminated throughout Egypt.