Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: The Donation Stela of Ahmose I
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The Donation Stela of Ahmose I

1 [Year x] month three of Inundation, day 7 under the majesty of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebpehtyre, the son of Re, Ahmose, living forever and ever.
Done in the presence
2 of [the council?] of the lands of the city and the servants of the temple of Amun. What was said in the majesty of the palace, 3 (life!, prosperity!, health!), in... [saying]: ...[I have given] the office of the second priest of Amun to the godís wife, great royal wife, 4 she united to the beauty of the white crown, Ahmose-Nofretari, may she live! [It] was done for her in an imyt-per, from son to son, heir to heir 5 [without allowing a challenge] against it by anyone forever and ever, because the office ////////// I have seen //////////// 7 before me.
- -month three: Bernadette Menu [1]: "4th month"
-Ahmose: Ahmose I ca 1570-1546 BCE
-the council?: Menu: "the magistrates"
-the city: Thebes
-servants: Menu: "hour priests"
-[I have given]: Gitton [4] thought that this destroyed passage should be rendered as having belonged or the like, meaning that the office of the of second priest of Amen had belonged to Ahmose Nefertary, the God's Wife, and that she was selling it.
-the office of the second priest of Amun: The office of god's wife of Amen is not attested before the New Kingdom (Bryan).
-imyt-per: lit. "that which is in the house". Menu speaks of a deed which ensures the rights of inheritance of the holder's descendants.
Ahmose as a private person and husband of Ahmes Nefertari, buys the office from Ahmose the king and head of the administration and donates it to his wife.
-I have seen: Menu proposes "I have seen god (?)"
The list thereof:
gold:
8 160 pieces (shenau, possibly a writing of seniu)
silver: 250
copper: 67 of an object made of copper, each one of 6 shenau.
I have given it to her for
9 4 (pieces), totaling 200.
Clothing (d3iw), 200 with the value of 400 shenau. I have given them for 200.
Wigs, 80,
10 with the value of 210 shenau, reckoning of it as 150.
Ointment, 13 pots for 78; reckoning of it as 50.
Grand total
11 in shenau: 1,010.
I have given to her male and female servants, and four hundred oipe of barley and six arouras of inundated land as an excess over
12 the 1010 shenau. Her office will be at the value of 600 shenau. The office is completed for her, it being endowed.
-shenau: if these refer to seniu, each would equal 1/12 of a deben, about 7.6 gr. Menu: "shati"
-copper: Menu: "bronze"
-object made of copper: Menu: "diadem"
-4: Menu: "3 (?)"
-wigs: Menu: "head scarves"
-shenau: 1,010: 8,416 deben of copper at the New Kingdom silver to copper ratio of 1:100.
-male and female servants: Menu: "one male and one female servant".
-four hundred oipe: equal to 100 khar. An oipe was about 20 litres.
-arouras: an aroura was about 2,700 m²
-inundated land: Menu: "low land". Low lying land was worth twice as much as land which was not regularly inundated.
With this donation Ahmose created an estate for the office of the God's Wife of Amen. This estate continued to be enlarged during the New Kingdom.
-The office is completed...: Menu: "completely (acquired)". By paying above normal requirements Ahmose made sure there would be not doubts as to who the proprietor of the office was.
Gitton interprets this as She has renounced the office which has completely been paid for.
13 She said: "Indeed I am satisfied with the price. Let it be done according to it, without allowing that it be 14 challenged by anyone forever and ever."
She gave an oath concerning it: "as my lord lives for me."
She came at the front of
15 the council of the city (of Thebes) together with the servants of the temple of Amun in order to record in writing the office which was placed under the control of the godís wife, great royal wife 16 Ahmose-Nofretari, may she live!, clothed in a shawl (d3iw) deriving from the exchange price, consisting of one of the 200 shawls 17 which my majesty gave. For she is a nemhet, without anything.
-Let it be done according to it: According to Menu this is not part of the speech anymore. She translates it as "One acted accordingly".
-challenged: Menu: "annulled"
-She came at the front of...: Menu: "The magistrates ... approached her"
-servants: Menu: "hour priests"
-she is a nemhet: nemhet can refer to a poor, an orphaned or a free person (a citizen), here apparently referring to someone without means or standing. Menu: "she was without wealth and position (sans situation)"
Indeed my majesty has caused that one build 18 a house for her separate from any petition which she says, consisting of what a brother gives to her in order to make revenue for her, it being removed from challenge.
19 Then she praised god on behalf of his majesty in the presence of the courtiers, saying: "He clothes me, while I have nothing; 20 he causes that I am rich, while I am orphaned (nmH.kwj)."
-separate from any petition which she says...: Menu: "to prevent any complaint she might express, giving her her brother to serve her and to remove any claims".
-rich, while I am orphaned: Menu: "powerful, when I was without wealth and position (sans situation)".
Sealed in the presence of the king himself. 21 [One gave] the imyt per in the presence of the portable bark of Amun at his festival of Choiak 22 [in the] southern festival hall in the presence of the king himself, in the presence of the godís wife and great royal wife Ahmose Nofretari, may she live!, in front of /// /// 23 all together, and the courtiers who are in the following of his majesty [remainder of column empty; continues horizontally below], 24 and the entire council of magistrates (djadjat).
-portable bark: Menu: "tabernacle"
-festival of Choiak: or festival of Sokar. Major feast associated with Osiris.
Then the majesty of this god said: "I am her protector. A challenge to her shall not occur forever by any king who shall arise in the following of future generations. But only the godís wife Nefertary. It belongs to her from son to son forever and ever in accordance 25 with her office of godís wife. There is not one who shall say, 'Except for meí. There is not another who can speak." -this god said: B. Bryan: this appears to be an oracle coming from the portable bark of Amun.
-There is not one who shall say ... : Menu: "No one will decide but me; no other king will be able to decide concerning it."
Later kings did attempt to influence the choice of God's Wife and succeeded in turning the office into an instrument of royal power [2][3]. It may be symbolic that under Amenhotep III the Donation Stela was broken and the pieces used in the building of a pylon.

Source: Betsy Bryan Property and the God's Wives of Amun
Johns Hopkins University
Women and Property, conference organized by and collection edited by Deborah Lyons, Raymond Westbrook


[1] Bernadette Menu, La "stèle" d'Ahmès Néfertary dans son contexte historique et juridique, BIFAO 77, 1976
[4] Michel Gitton, La résiliation d'une fonction religieuse: Nouvelle interprétation de la stèle de donation d'Ahmès Néfertary, BIFAO 76 (1976)

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The adoption stela of Nitocris[2] The adoption stela of Nitocris
The adoption stela of Nitocris[3] The stela of Ankhenesneferibre
 
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© December 2005
Updated: June 2007

 

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