Settlement Pottery: The Bakery of al-Shaykh Said

The Bakery of al-Shaykh Said The Bakery of al-Shaykh Said


The pottery that was recovered during the excavation of the food production area at al-Shaykh Said makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of the production of different types of bread during the Old Kingdom. All of the following types of pottery can be recognized from the well-known bakery scene in the tomb of Ti in Saqqara, where an Old Kingdom bakery is depicted in detail (left).

The most frequently occuring vessel type at the bakery is the so-called bedja bread mould, referring to the bedja bread that was baked in it. Many of these bread moulds were found in situ, some of them even neatly stacked into eachother.

These bread moulds were used as indirect ovens: First they were piled upside down on a fire place and heated. When the desired temperature was reached, the moulds were lifted from the fire and put inside a hole in the ground. After the dough was poured inside, another mould was placed on top to keep the heath inside and make the dough bake. A particulary large type ofbedja bread mould was hitherto exclusively known from the pyramid workmen’s site at Giza south.

Bread tray al-Shaykh Said Next to bread moulds, different types of bread trays were discovered, such as oval and round aperet trays that were used for the production of the flat pesen bread. These trays as well were used for indirect baking, as they were also heated in advance, and lifted from the fire before the dough was put inside.
  Another type of bread mould which we suspect was used in the production of the setet bread, is also attested at the al-Shaykh Said bakery. No archaeological record was found so far of this type of bread mould but it is well known from funerary models and from tomb scenes such as the one in the tomb of Ti.
  For the preparation of dough, vats and basins of different sizes, and sometimes provided with a spout, were used. Many fragments of such vessel could be collected.
Fabric: Nile silt tempered with calcite alabaster An interesting fact is that the bread moulds and bread trays were all produced by a local workshop. This can be proved by the fact that their fabric is made from a Nile silt, tempered with fragments of crushed calcite alabaster that originated from the nearby stone quarry Maghara Abu Aziz. 

Read more?

VEREECKEN, S. (2011),'An Old Kingdom Bakery at Sheikh Said South: Preliminary Report on the Pottery Corpus', in: STRUDWICK, N. and STRUDWICK, H. (eds.) Old Kingdom: New Perspectives. Egyptian Art and Archaeology 2750-2150 BC (Oxford), p. 297-304.

WILLEMS, H., VEREECKEN, S., KUIJPER, L., VANTHUYNE, B., MARINOVA, E., LINSEELE, V., VERSTRAETEN, G., HENDRICKX, S., EYKERMAN, M., VAN DEN BROECK, A., VAN NEER, W., BOURRIAU, J., FRENCH, P., PEETERS, C., DE LAET, V., MORTIER, S. and DE KOONING, Z. (2009), 'An Industrial Site at al-Shaykh Sa'id/Wadi Zabayda', Ägypten und Levante 19, p. 293-331.