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Ancient Egypt: Records of the Harem Conspiracy against Ramses III - the Judicial Turin Papyrus, the Rollin Papyrus, the Lee Papyrus
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Records of the Harem Conspiracy against Ramses III
The Judicial Turin Papyrus, Rollin Papyrus and Lee Papyrus

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The Judicial Turin Papyrus

... Ruler of Heliopolis ........ t[he] wh[ole] land ......... the whole land ........ their cattle ........ to bring them ....... 6 all ..... before them ...... for them; the ... are ... ..... people saying ........ they are the abhorred of the land.

I commission:
The overseer of the White House, Mentemtowe; The overseer of the White House, Pefroi,
The standard-bearer, Kara,
The butler, Pebes,
The butler, Kedendenna;
The butler, Maharbaal;
The butler, Payernu;
The butler, Thutrekhnefer;
The king's-herald, Penrenut;
The scribe, Mai;
The scribe of the archives, Peremhab;
The standard-bearer of the infantry, Hori; saying:

-I commission: De Buck used the Past Tense: I commissioned
-White House: the treasury
- Maharbaal: According to his Semitic name, an Asiatic. cf. The people of ancient Egypt. Asiatics were often freed slaves or the descendants of slaves, cf. Slavery

As for the words which the people have spoken, I know them not. Go ye and examine them. When they go out, and they examine them, they shall cause to die by their own hand, those who should die, without [my] knowing it. They shall execute the punishment [upon] the others, likewise without my knowing it. When [ye] [go] [see to it] that ye give heed, and have a care lest ye execute punishment upon ...... unjustly ........ Now, I say to you in very truth, as for all that has been done, and those who have done it, let all that they have done fall upon their (own) heads; while I am protected and defended forever, while I am [among] the just kings, who are before Amon-Re, king of gods, and before Osiris, ruler of eternity."

-When they go out...: According to Breasted it should read: When ye go out etc.
De Buck on the other hand accepts the text as it stands and translates it as a narration: And they went and examined them, and they caused to die by their own hands those whom they caused (so) to die, though I do not know [wh]o, [and they] also punished [the] others, though I do not know who.
-Now, I say to you in very truth: According to de Buck the king exhorted his officials time and again not to convict wrongfully: Thus I spoke to them again and again.

Persons brought in because of the great crimes which they had committed, and placed in the court of examination before the great nobles of the court of examination, that they might be examined by:
The overseer of the White House, Mentemtowe;
The overseer of the White House, Pefroi;
The standard-bearer, Kara;
The butler, Pebes;
The scribe of the archives, Mai,
The standard-bearer, Hori.
They examined them; they found them guilty; they brought their punishment upon them; their crimes seized them.

-White House: The Treasury

The great criminal, Pebekkamen, formerly chief of the chamber.
He was brought in because of his collusion with Tiy and the women of the harem. He made common cause with them, and began bringing out their words to their mothers and their brothers who were there, saying: "Stir up the people! Incite enemies to hostility against their lord." He was placed before the great nobles of the court of examination; they examined his crimes; they found that he ha committed them. His crimes seized him; the nobles who examined him brought his judgment upon him.

The great criminal, Mesedsure, formerly butler.
He was brought in because of his collusion [with] Pebekkamen, formerly chief of the chamber, and with the women to stir up enemies to hostilities against their lord. He was placed before the great nobles of the court of examination; they examined his crimes; they found im guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

-Mesedsure: a pseudonym meaning "Re hates him"

The great criminal, Peynok, formerly overseer of the king's [...] of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of his making common cause with Pebekkamen and Mesedsure, to commit hostility against their lord. He was placed before the great nobles of the court of examination; they examined his crimes; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

-in the suite: while following. Part of the harem accompanied the king when he was travelling through Egypt.

The great criminal, Pendua, formerly scribe of the king's [...] of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of his making common cause with Pebekkamen and Mesedsure, the other criminal, formerly overseer of the king's [...] and the women of the harem, to make a conspiracy with them, to commit hostility against their lord. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they examined his crimes; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Petewnteamon, formerly inspector of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of his hearing the words which the people discussed with the women of the harem, without reporting them. He was placed before the great nobles of the court of examination; they examined his crimes; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Kerpes, formerly inspector of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of the words which he had heard and had concealed. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination. They found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Khamopet, formerly inspector of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of the words which he had heard and had concealed. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination. They found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Khammale, formerly inspector of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of the words which he had heard and had concealed. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Setimperthoth, formerly inspector of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of the words which he had heard and had concealed. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Setimperamon, formerly inspector of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of the words which he had heard and had concealed. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Weren, who was butler.
He was brought in because of his hearing the words from the chief of the chamber, and when he had [withdrawn from] him, he concealed them and did not report them. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Eshehebsed, formerly assistant of Pebekkamen.
He was brought in because of his hearing the words from Pebekkamen; and when he had left him, he did not report them. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Peluka, formerly butler and scribe of the White House.
He was brought in because of his collusion with Pebekkamen, having heard the words from him, without reporting them. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

-Peluka: the Lycian. The Luka were one of the Sea Peoples

The great criminal, the Libyan, Yenini, formerly butler.
He was brought in because of his collusion with Pebekkamen, having heard the words from him, without reporting them. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

Wives of the people of the harem-gate, who united with the men, when the things were discussed; who were placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found them guilty; they brought their punishment upon them: six women.

The great criminal, Pere, son of Ruma, formerly overseer of the White House.
He was brought in because of his collusion with the great criminal, Penhuibin, making common cause with him to stir up enemies to hostility against their lord. He was placed before the nobles of the court of examination; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

The great criminal, Binemwese, formerly captain of archers in Nubia.
He was brought in because of the letter, which his sister, who was in the harem, [in the suite], had written to him, saying: "Incite the people to hostility! And come thou to begin hostility against thy lord." He was placed before Kedendenna, Maharbaal, Pirsun, and Thutrekhnefer; they examined him; they found him guilty; they brought his punishment upon him.

-Binemwese: a pseudonym, meaning "Wicked in Thebes"

Persons brought in because of their crimes and because of their collusion with Pebekkamen, Peyes, and Pentewere.
They were placed before the nobles of the court of examination in order to examine them; they found them guilty; they left them in their own hands in the court of examination; they took their own lives; and no punishment was executed upon them.

-they left them in their own hands: The judges left the criminals to execute their own punishment

The great criminal, Peyes, formerly commander of the army.
The great criminal, Messui, formerly scribe of the house of sacred writings.
The great criminal, Perekamenef, formerly chief.
The great criminal, Iroi, formerly overseer of the [...] of Sekhmet.
The great criminal, Nebzefai, formerly butler.
The great criminal, Shedmeszer, formerly scribe of the house of sacred writings.
Total, 6.

-Collusion, or the knowledge of a crime about to be committed without reporting it to the authorities was considered a lesser crime, and the accused were allowed to take their own lives.

Persons who were brought in, because of their crimes, to the court of examination, before Kedendemia, Maharbaal, Pirsun, Thutrekhnefer, and Mertusamon.
They examined them concerning their crimes; they found them guilty; they left them in their place; they took their own lives.

Pentewere, who bore that other name.
He was brought in because of his collusion [with] Tiy, his mother, when she discussed the words with the women of the harem, being hostile against his lord. He was placed before the butlers, in order to examine him; they found him guilty; they left him in his place; he took his own life.

The great criminal, Henutenamon, formerly butler.
He was brought in because of the crimes of the women of the harem; having been among them, and having heard (them), without reporting them. He was placed before the butlers, in order to examine him; they found him guilty, they left him in his place; he took his own life.

The great criminal, Pere, formerly scribe of the king's [...] of the harem, [in the suite].
He was brought in because of the crimes of the women of the harem; having been among them, and having heard (them), without reporting them. He was placed before the butlers, in order to examine him; they found him guilty; they left him in his place; he took his own life.

Persons upon whom punishment was executed by cutting off their noses and their ears, because of their forsaking the good testimony delivered to them. The women had gone; had arrived at their place of abode, and had there caroused with them and with Peyes. Their crime seized them.

This great criminal, Pebes, formerly butler.
This punishment was executed upon him; he was left (alone); he took his own life.
The great criminal, Mai, formerly scribe of the archives.
The great criminal, Teynakhte, formerly officer of infantry.
The great criminal, Oneney, formerly captain of police.

-This seems to have been an attempt by Peyes and the women from the harem to pervert the course of justice. Mai and Pebes had been appointed members of the court trying the conspirators. The officers, Teynakhte and Oneney, may have been in charge of the prisoners and let them out to visit the judges.
-cutting off their noses and their ears: a shameful mark, at times in conjunction with deportation
-the good testimony: the king's instructions
-at their place of abode: at the place of abode of the accused
-caroused: lit. made a beer-hall.

Person who had been connected with them; they had contended with him, with evil and violent words; he was dismissed; punishment was not executed upon him:
The great criminal, Hori, who was standard-bearer of the infantry.

-Hori too may have been one of the judges. In this record he is called Xrw, meaning fallen or miserable, rendered as great criminal by Breasted, despite being found innocent. This may be indicative of a principle of presumed guilt.
 

The Rollin Papyrus

He began to make magic rolls for [hindering] and terrifying, and to make some gods of wax, and some people, for enfeebling the limbs of people; and gave them into the hand of Pebekkamen, whom Re made not to be chief of the chamber, and the other great criminals, saying: "Take them in;" and they took them in. Now, when he set himself to do the evil (deeds) which he did, in which Re did not permit that he should succeed, he was examined. Truth was found in every crime and in every evil (deed), which his heart had devised to do. There was truth therein, he had done them all, together with all the other great criminals. They were great crimes of death, the great abominations of the land, the things which he had done. Now, when he learned of the great crimes of death which he had committed, he took his own life.

-The name of the accused is not given in this papyrus
-when he learned of the great crimes of death: when he learned what he had been found guilty of
 

The Lee Papyrus

........ the king, L. P. H., for provisioning [.......] ...... any ...... of my place of abode, to any person in the world." Now, when Penhuibin, formerly overseer of herds, said to him: "Give to me a roll for enduing me with strength and might," he gave to him a magic roll of Usermare-Meriamon (Ramses III), L.P.H., the Great God, his lord, L.P.H., and he began to employ the magic powers of a god upon people. He arrived at the side of the harem, this other large, deep place. He began to make people of wax, inscribed, in order that they might be taken in by the inspector, Errem, [hindering] one troop and bewitching the others, that a few words might be taken in, and others brought out. Now, when he was examined concerning them, truth was found in every crime and in every evil (deed), which his heart had devised to do. There was truth therein, he had done them all, together with the other great criminals, the abomination of every god and every goddess all together. The great punishments of death were executed upon him, of which the gods have said: "Execute them upon him."

-the Great God: by this time only referring to deceased pharaohs.
-Errem: Seemingly another Asiatic, El-ram

...... in the ....... upon the measure. He went away ....... his hand enfeebled ... .... Now, when [he was examined concerning] them, truth was found in every crime and in [every] evil (deed), which his heart had devised to do. There was truth [therein, he had done them all, together with the othe]r great criminals, the abomination of every god and every goddess all together. They were great crimes of death, the great abominations of [the land, the things which he had done. Now, when he learned of the] great [crim]es of death, which he had committed, he took his own life. Now, when the nobles, who examined him, learned that he had taken his own life ......... Re, altogether, of which the sacred writings say: "Execute it upon him."

Source: James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four § 423ff


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