Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: Records of legal proceedings at Deir el Medine
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Records of legal proceedings at Deir el Medine

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    3rd Shemu 9. On this day the worker Amenemipet lodged a complaint with me (?) (against) the water carrier Pen-nut from the necropolis, in the presence of the foreman Khensu and the scribe Amennakht, with these words: "If I let arrive the last day of the 3rd Shemu without giving 20 copper deben to Amenemipet, then I shall be subject to 100 blows of the stick and they (i.e. the 20 deben) shall be doubled against me."
Repetition in front of the Keeper of the Gate Penpamer. He swore three oaths in the name of the lord L.P.H. with the words: "On the New Years Day I shall give the silver to this man".
    1st Akhet 20. On this day Amenemipet lodged a complaint against the water carrier Amenkhaw with the scribe Amennakht and the superintendent Khawemipet. His investigation [...] agree with the plan which has made (?) [...]. He was condemned to a fine of money and [...] pig.
Ostrakon Berlin P 10655 found at Deir el Medine. Source: Deir el Medina Online [1]
 
Shemu: March to July
silver - payment
 
    Year of the reign 28, 3rd Akhet 9. Bakenurner spoke with the water-carrier Penteuret because of his donkey which he had given to Penenut for its work. Penteuret was condemned to the work of his donkey for Bakenurner. He swore an oath with these words: Should the donkey die, it will be against me; should he live, it will be against me. Thus the donkey was given to him for his work.
What concerns my donkey: I have given 40 copper deben for him. Cause him to give them to me.
 
Ostrakon Berlin P 1121 found at Deir el Medine. Source: Deir el Medina Online [2]
 
Akhet: July to November
spoke - Allam: litigate, quarrel
condemned - Allam: pledged, obliged
donkey die, it will be against me - Allam: ... pay the price of the donkey, Malinine: j'en suis responsable (I am responsible for it)
live, it will be against me - Allam: ... return the donkey. Malinine: j'en suis responsable (I am responsible for it)
I have given 40 copper deben - paid 40 copper deben
Cause him to give them to me - seemingly the donkey has died and its owner wants the compensation agreed upon.

 
    The foreman Hai appeared together with Penamen, Ptahshedu, Wennefer and Tawsret before the court, in the presence of the (following) judges:
The foreman Paneb
Nebsemenu
Amennakht
Nekhuemmut
Hui
Pashedu
Rahotep
Nebnefer, son of Pennub
Nebnefer, son of Wadjmose
Hui, son of Inheretkhau
Merire
Ipu
And the whole crew together.
    What the foreman Hai said: "Concerning myself: I was sleeping in my hut when Penamen and his men came out, talking about words attributed to Hai concerning the greatness of the Pharaoh, L.P.H.: 'He has cursed Seti.' "
    The court spoke to them: "Tell us what you have heard."
    They prevaricated with their words making excuses.
    The foreman Paneb told them: "Tell us what you have heard."
    They answered: "We have heard nothing."
    The court told them, i.e. Penamen, Ptahshedu, Wennefer and Tawsret: "Say: 'As truly as Amen endures and as truly as the ruler endures, we have not said anything against the Pharaoh, L.P.H., and if today we conceal it and unveil it in one or two days, then our noses and ears shall be cut off (for our) evil deed.' "
    And they were given one hundred sound blows of the stick.
After T.G.H James Pharaohs Volk, p.95f
Ostrakon Cairo CG 25556
5th year of the reign of Seti II, c.1218 BCE
 
He has cursed Seti: Lèse majesté was a serious offence. The withdrawal of the accusations against Hai must have saved him from grave consequences. The punishment of the calumniators was accordingly harsh.
 
    Year of the reign 6, 3rd Month of Akhet, day 10.
    After the war I buried a tool in my house, and it has been stolen. I made everyone in the village clear themselves of suspicion concerning my tool. A few days later the citizeness Nubnehem came to me: "Divine power forces me (to speak): I saw Heria taking thy tool." Thus she spoke.
    Then the court spoke to Heria: "Are you the one who stole Nebnefer's tool? True or false?"
    Heria said" "False! It was not me who stole the tool."
    The court said to her: "Can you swear the Great Oath of the Lord, L.P.H., concerning this tool, as follows: 'It was not me who stole the tool.' ?"
    Then the citizeness Heria said: "As true as Amen endures and as true as the ruler, L.P.H. endures, he whose power is more dangerous than death, Pharaoh, if it is concluded that it was me who stole the tool ..... "
    One hour after the court had examined her, she was sent accompanied by the servant Pashedu and she brought back the tool which had been buried at her place, together with a cultic vessel belonging to Amen-of-the-Good-Encounter, which had been buried in her house, as she had stolen the counter piece (?) of Amen's cultic vessel. Still she swore the Great Oath of the Lord, L.P.H., saying: "It was not me who stole this tool."
    Then the court spoke: "Very guilty is the citizeness Heria and worthy of death. The craftsman Nebnefer is justified."
    Then the process was adjourned until the arrival of the vizier.
    The court of this day:
The foreman Paneb
The foreman Hai
The scribe Pashedu
The scribe Pentawer
The chief of police Monthmose
The guard Ipui
And the whole crew together.
    Hence the revulsion of the whole village, the theft of the metal vessel, with the widow (Heria) (as an accomplice).
    My lord shall know about the situation this place is in: A citizeness Tanedjemhemes stole a
tjek-vessel made of metal (weighing) one and a half deben here in this village in the time of the vizier Neferrenpet, even though she was the wife of Pashedu, son of Heh. The vizier ordered the scribe Hatiai to come and take her to the mooring post.
    My lord should punish this woman for the theft of the tool and likewise of the cultic vessel, lest another woman like her repeat it.
    Behold! I have informed my lord.
    Now it is the vizier's task to examine. May he give all the orders he wishes. May it be known.
After T.G.H James Pharaohs Volk, p.93f
 
Ostrakon Nash I (British Museum No. 65930)
6th year of the reign of Seti II, c.1217 BCE
 
Akhet: July to November
Great Oath: The Great Oath was not recorded in its entirety on this ostrakon.
worthy of death: Probably rather for the theft of the cultic vessel, or just its concealment, than that of the tool. Qenbets could not pronounce death sentences. This was the domain of the pharaoh and the vizier.
The court of this day: Qenbets were presided over by village notables.
situation this place is in: A case of precedence is cited.

 


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-[1] Deir el Medina online: Ostrakon Berlin P 10655
-[2] Deir el Medina online: Ostrakon Berlin P 1121
 

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December 2002
Update:
August 2003

 

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