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The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context

An Archaeological Find and Its Mediterranean Context

Shelley Wachsmann

Publication Year: 2013

When Shelley Wachsmann began his analysis of the small ship model excavated by assistants of famed Egyptologist W. M. F. Petrie in Gurob, Egypt, in 1920, he expected to produce a brief monograph that would shed light on the model and the ship type that it represented. Instead, Wachsmann discovered that the model held clues to the identities and cultures of the enigmatic Sea Peoples, to the religious practices of ancient Egypt and Greece, and to the oared ships used by the Bronze Age Mycenaean Greeks.

Although found in Egypt, the prototype of the Gurob model was clearly an Aegean-style galley of a type used by both the Mycenaeans and the Sea Peoples. The model is the most detailed representation presently known of this vessel type, which played a major role in changing the course of world history. Contemporaneous textual evidence for Sherden—one of the Sea Peoples—settled in the region suggests that the model may be patterned after a galley of that culture. Bearing a typical Helladic bird-head decoration topping the stempost, with holes along the sheer strakes confirming the use of stanchions, the model was found with four wheels and other evidence for a wagon-like support structure, connecting it with European cultic prototypes.

The online resources that accompany the book illustrate Wachsmann’s research and analysis. They include 3D interactive models that allow readers to examine the Gurob model on their computers as if held in the hand, both in its present state and in two hypothetical reconstructions. The online component also contains high-resolution color photos of the model, maps and satellite photos of the site, and other related materials. Offering a wide range of insights and evidence for linkages among ancient Mediterranean peoples and traditions, The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context presents an invaluable asset for anyone interested in the complexities of cultural change in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-ix


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pp. x-xvi

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pp. xvii-xx

I “discovered” it one clear dry afternoon in spring 1998. I was sitting in the small, specialized library of Texas A&M University’s Nautical Archaeology Program, where I teach. I had been thumbing through various titles that I had noticed but had previously not found time to peruse. ...

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pp. xxi-xxii

I have had much welcome assistance during the research and writing of this book. My study of the physical remains of the Gurob ship-cart model, which took place during the summer of 2005, would not have been possible without the gracious and the generous assistance of the staff of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, ...

Note Regarding Online Resources

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

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Chapter 1. The Gurob Ship-Cart Model

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pp. 1-32

In 1920 William Mathews Flinders Petrie assigned two of his assistants, Guy Brunton and Reginald Engleback, to excavate Gurob, a site that he had first examined three decades earlier (Fig. 1.1).1 Petrie’s renewed interest in the ancient settlement resulted from his concern for the site’s destruction and the loss of antiquities ...

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Chapter 2. The Iconographic Evidence

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pp. 33-84

Despite its Egyptian provenience, as we shall see, the ultimate prototype of the Gurob ship model is clearly a Helladic-style galley of the Late Bronze/Early Iron Ages.1 All later Greek galleys of the Protogeometric, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods essentially evolved from this original Mycenaean galley type.2 ...

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Chapter 3. Wheels, Wagons, and the Transport of Ships Overland

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pp. 85-162

The Gurob ship model was found together with four wheels (Figs. 1.21–22).1 Wheels on a ship sound like the ultimate oxymoron. The model’s wheels imply that the model—and hence the model’s prototype vessel—was intended for travel on land. ...

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Chapter 4. Foreigners at Gurob

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pp. 163-200

The plaque, or pavois, found with the Gurob ship model indicates that it had cultic significance.1 Thus, while we know virtually nothing about the model’s owner, we may assume beyond a reasonable doubt that the model reflects aspects of that person’s religious beliefs. ...

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Chapter 5. Conclusions

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pp. 201-206

Sometime, probably during the late thirteenth or early twelfth century, a competent artisan in Egypt constructed a simple model of a ship. Wooden ship models are virtually unknown in Egypt during the New Kingdom apart from those found in royal XVIIIth-Dynasty tombs, and this model is remarkable for several other reasons as well. ...

Appendix 1: Lines Drawing of the Gurob Ship Model

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pp. 207-208

Appendix 2: The Gurob Ship-Cart Model in Virtual Reality

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pp. 209-218

Appendix 3: Ship Colors in the Homeric Poems

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pp. 219-224

Appendix 4: Sherden and Tjuk-People in the Wilbour Papyrus

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pp. 225-238

Appendix 5: Radiocarbon Age Analysis of the Gurob Ship-Cart Model

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pp. 239-242

Appendix 6: Analysis of Pigments from the Gurob Ship-Cart Model

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pp. 243-248

Appendix 7: Wood Identification

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pp. 249-250

Glossary of Nautical Terms

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pp. 251-254


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pp. 255-284


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pp. 285-312


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pp. 313-322

Back Cover

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pp. 354-354

E-ISBN-13: 9781603447461
E-ISBN-10: 1603447466
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603444293
Print-ISBN-10: 1603444297

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 212 b&w photos. 65 Line drawings. 4 figs. 5 maps. 7 appendixes. Glossary. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series
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OCLC Number: 861737714
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Galleys -- Models -- Egypt -- Gurob (Extinct city).
  • Carriages and carts -- Models -- Egypt -- Gurob (Extinct city).
  • Egypt -- Antiquities.
  • Gurob (Extinct city) -- Relations -- Sources.
  • Shipbuilding -- Mediterranean Region -- History -- To 1500 -- Sources.
  • Sea Peoples -- Sources.
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