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Historical Papyrus in Five Pieces

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, 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
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1809-1743 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XII Dynasty-XIII Dynasty
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 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)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 35.1446a-e
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Theodora Wilbour
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Historical Papyrus in Five Pieces, ca. 1809-1743 B.C.E. Papyrus, ink, 35.1446a: 10 3/8 x 11 13/16 in. (26.3 x 30 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Theodora Wilbour, 35.1446a-e
    IMAGE overall, 35.1446a-e_negAA_bw_IMLS.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Hieratic papyrus inscribed recto and verso, recording a will. Recto inscribed in red and black recording royal decrees giving titles to property. Verso, in black ink, itemizes the property.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (92%)
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