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Portion of a Historical Text

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

When complete, the papyrus to which this fragment belonged measured almost seven feet long. The texts are written in a cursive form of hieroglyphs called hieratic. Differences in handwriting and in the historical events described demonstrate that different scribes added new inscriptions over several generations.

The most important text recounts the efforts of a Thirteenth Dynasty Theban noblewoman named Senebtisi to establish legal ownership of ninety-five household servants, whose names indicate that forty-five were of Asiatic origin. The presence of so many foreigners in a single household suggests that the Asiatic population was increasing rapidly in Thirteenth Dynasty Egypt.

As was customary, some of these foreigners no doubt married Egyptians, adopted Egyptian beliefs and cultural traditions, and were absorbed into the cultural mainstream. Others, especially prisoners of war or descendants of military captives, remained loyal to their Asian heritage. Some of these foreigners facilitated the collapse of the Middle Kingdom and the later conquest of Egypt by the Asiatic Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period.
MEDIUM Papyrus, ink
DATES ca. 1809–1743 B.C.E.
DYNASTY late Dynasty 12 to Dynasty 13
PERIOD Middle Kingdom
DIMENSIONS 35.1446a-e: 11 1/2 × 71 5/8 in. (29.2 × 182 cm) 35.1446a: 10 3/8 x 11 13/16 in. (26.3 x 30 cm) 35.1448b: 6 1/2 x 20 11/16 in. (16.5 x 52.5 cm) 35.1446c: 11 1/2 x 20 in. (29.2 x 50.8 cm) 35.1446d: 11 x 19 3/8 in. (28 x 49.2 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Theodora Wilbour
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A late Middle Kingdom documentary papyrus. The original texts of the recto comprise 80 lines of hieratic concerning individuals who failed to complete labor services assigned to them (probably corvée labor). The list of the names of the individuals is followed by copies of directives issued to the xnrt wrt at Thebes with instructions on how to deal with these people. The final entry records the carrying out of these instructions and their successful conclusion. Three later insertions were added to the recto dealing with private business that has nothing to do with the original texts. The main text of the verso comprises 95 lines of hieratic and continues the subject matter of the insertions on the recto. Additionally, 3 insertions were also added to the verso that deal specifically with the verso texts.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Portion of a Historical Text, ca. 1809–1743 B.C.E. Papyrus, ink, 35.1446a-e: 11 1/2 × 71 5/8 in. (29.2 × 182 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Theodora Wilbour, 35.1446a-e (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 35.1446d_PS20.jpg)
IMAGE component, 35.1446d_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2024
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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