Egyptian Tomb Bread : An example of variety in shape and surface decoration.

This magnificent row of breads is a detail of a painting of offerings in the Theban Necropolis Tomb TT3. This painting is strikingly beautiful. Imagine walking into a bakery seeing a display of breads that looks like this. For me, at least, a dream.

Bakeries in Paris tend to display breads with the top crust displayed in the same way the crusts of these breads are displayed. In most Parisian bakeries, behind the counter, are lines of breads showing off the crusts of crusty breads in which the brown tonalities offer a feast for the eyes. Even very differently shaped breads, such as a long thin baguette and a more squat oval batard, may be made with the same recipe.

Pharaonic bread culture was clearly very interested in surface decoration. These set of 7 breads includes 5 oblong loaves. Each of the loaves is different! Whether the different patterns represent anything more than different patterns — whether they might indicate a difference in the bread recipe — is something that we cannot know.

You will one that the artist uses white and brown as contrast colors. These are not choices the artist has made for aesthetic reasons. Actual breads preserved in tombs were often painted white. These breads celebrate an aesthetic very different from our own.

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