Dinner in Egypt, Thirty-Five Hundred Years Ago

February 25, 2017

Following in the steps of the Rijksmuseum and the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art flung its doors open to the internet last month. Anyone, anywhere, can now access nearly 450,000 digitized works for free non-commercial use. (And more than a million pieces still await digitization.) I can’t think of a single rabbit hole I’d rather fall into.

Scrolling around, looking for food, I came upon some truly ancient dishes. This loaf of bread came out of the oven 3,500 years ago, and went straight into the tomb of Hatnefer and Ramose to provide sustenance in the afterlife:  36.3.78

A royal child named Amenemhat got something a little heartier: embalmed pigeon. This wooden fowl sarcophagus, which was found next to Amenemhat in his tomb near Thebes, is approximately the same age as the bread:


Then there’s this remarkable fellow: a fully embalmed goose.


Finally, this dark dense morsel found in Hatnefer’s tomb. What is it, you ask? Nothing less than our old friend fruitcake! Thousands of years ago it was already known for its staying power.36.3.81


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