Skip Navigation

Portion of a Historical Text

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
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
  • Possible Place Made: Thebes
  • DATES ca. 1809-1743 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late XII Dynasty-XIII Dynasty
    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)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 35.1446a-e
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Theodora Wilbour
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
    This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement. You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please contact reproductions@brooklynmuseum.org (charges apply). The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact copyright@brooklynmuseum.org.
    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, 35.1446e_side1_PS1.jpg)
    IMAGE side, side 1, 35.1446e_side1_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    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.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.