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Ancient Egypt: Inscription of Mes
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Inscription of Mes: A land dispute

"... officer(?) brought the notables of the town to hear their depositions.
What was said by the ... bearer of weapons, who ... Ramesses, [Mes]:
- This inscription dates to the New Kingdom after 1286 BCE
- 'As for me, I am the son of Huy, the son of Wernero, [the daughter] of Neshi. A division of property was made [for] Wernero and her brothers and sister [in] the [Great] Court [in the time of <King>] Horemhab. They sent the priest of the litter Iniy, who was an officer of the Great Court, to the Wahyt of Neshi, and a division was made for me and my brothers and sisters; and they made my mother, the citizenness Wernero, administrator for her brothers and sisters.
Then Ta-Kharu, the sister of Wernero, [pleaded together with Wernero(?) before] the Great Court. The Court officer was sent forth, and they caused each of the six heirs to take [cognizance] of his portion.
Now the King Ahmose (I) had [given x arouras of land] as a reward to my father. And further, since King Ahmose (I) this land was held by one (heir) after another until [this day]. Then Huy, my father, and his mother Wernero pleaded [together with their] brothers and sisters before the Great Court and the Court of Memphis ... writing(?). [Then my father(?) Huy] died.
And Neb-nofre, my mother, came to till the portion of Neshi my father, but she was not allowed to till (it). Then she laid a plaint against the administrator Khay,and they [caused them to appear before(?)] the Vizier [in] Heliopolis in the year 14+x of King Ramesses (II). [Then ... laid a plaint saying(?):] "Of a truth I am cast forth from this land of Neshi my father."
Then she said: "Let there be brought to me the registers from the Treasury, and likewise from the Department of the Granary of Pharaoh. For I am well pleased to say that I am the daughter of Neshi. Division was made for me together with them, but the administrator Khay does not know(?) my [right(?)] as a sister(?)."
The administrator Khay laid a plaint in the Great Court in the year 18, and they sent forth the priest of the litter Amon-emope, who was an officer of the Great Court, together with him, having a false register in his hand, (whereby) I ceased to be a child of Neshi. And they made the administrator Khay [administrator] for his brothers and sisters in the place of my heirship, although [I was] an heir of Neshi my father.
-Horemhab: ruled c. 1320 BCE
-they made my mother, the citizenness Wernero, administrator for her brothers and sisters: generally the role of the eldest son.
-Ahmose (I): ruled from c.1570 to 1546 BCE
By the end of the 18th dynasty the land had been in the possession of the family for more than ten generations.
-x: unknown quantity. Egyptian numerals are often difficult to decypher.
-arouras: One aroura - about 2700 square metres.
-Ramesses (II): ruled c.1304-1237
-my father: here - forefather, male ancestor. Words expressing close family relationships were not very precisely defined: brother was also used for husband or male lover, sister for wife.
And now see! I am in the Wahyt of Neshi my father, in which is the Hnpt of Neshi my father. Let me be examined and let me see whether(?) Wernero was the mother of Huy my father, [who was] called [the son of(?)] Neshi, although she is not duly enrolled in the register, which the administrator Khay made against me together with the Court officer who came with him. I bring a plaint saying: "It is a false register that has been made against me. For verily when I was examined before, I was found to be inscribed. Let me be examined together with my co-heirs before the notables of the town, and let me see whether(?) I am the son of Neshi, or whether(?) it is not so(?)."' -Wahyt: settlement
-Hnpt: registered land
-made against me together with the Court officer who came with him: a serious accusation. Official corruption had been rife under Horemheb who had taken stern measures against it. cf. the Great Edict of Horemheb.
What was said by the administrator Khay:
'I am the son of the administrator User-hat, the son of ... [the son of] Prehotep. He gave to me his portion of lands in writing in the time of King Horemheb before witnesses; and it was the chief of the stable Huy the son of Prehotep who had tilled it since the time of King [Amonhotep(?)]. I succeeded to [him in] the time of Horemheb unto this day. Then the scribe Huy and the citizenness Neb-nofre seized my portion of the lands and she gave them to the artificer Khy[-iry(?)].
Then I laid a plaint before the Vizier in Heliopolis, and he caused me to plead together with Neb-nofre before the Vizier in the Great Court. I brought my [testimonies ...] in my hand since Ahmose (I), and Neb-nofre brought her testimonies in like manner. Then they were unrolled before the Vizier in the Great Court. And the Vizier said to [her(?)]: "These documents were written by one of the two parties."
Then Neb-nofre said to the Vizier: "Let there be brought to me the [two registers from the Treasury and likewise from the Department of the Granary(?).
And the Vizier] said to her: "Very good is that which you say."
Then they brought us(?) downstream to Per-Ramessu. And they entered into the Treasury of Pharaoh, and likewise into the Department of the Granary of Pharaoh, and they brought the two registers before the Vizier in the Great Court. Then the Vizier said to Neb-nofre: "Who is your heir [among] the heirs who are upon the two registers that are in [our] hand?"
And Neb-nofre said: "There is no heir in them."
"Then you are in the wrong," said the Vizier to her.
Then the scribe of the royal table, Kha, the son of Montu-emmen, said to the Vizier: "What is the decision which you make with regard to Neb-nofre?"
And the Vizier said to Khay: "You belong to the Residence. Go then to the Treasury, and see how the matter stands with her."
And Khay went out, and he said to her: "I have examined the documents. You are not inscribed in them."
Then they summoned the priest of the litter, Amon-emope, and they sent him forth, saying: "Call together the heirs, and show to them the lands, and make a division for them."
So did they command him together with the Court of Memphis.
Then I sent the ..., Runm(?) ... who was overseer of horses. And the officer of the Court, Amon-emope, summoned Mesmen(?), saying: "Come!"
... then they summoned him(?) to the west bank. And they gave to me 13 arouras of land and they gave lands [to the co-heirs(?) before] the notables of the town.'
-Amonhotep: 4 pharaohs by this name:
Amenhotep I (Djeserkare) (1546-1527)
Amenhotep II (Akheperure) (1450-1412)
Amenhotep III (Nebmaatre) (1402-1364)
Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) (1350-1334)
The case was heard after 1286, the king referred to was therefore seemingly Amenhotep IV.
-Per-Ramessu: Town in the eastern Delta, for a while capital of Egypt.
What was said by the goatherd Mesmen(?):
'[By Amon and by the Prince,] I speak by the truth of(?) Pharaoh, and I speak not falsely; and if I speak falsely, may [my nose and my ears] be cut off, [and may I be transported to] Kush. The scribe Huy was the son of Wernero, and, as they say, the son of Neshi. I saw ... ... lands.' - may [my nose and my ears] be cut off: disfigurement of this kind was quite a frequent punishment for a wide range of crimes, as was exile in Djaru or other far-flung parts of the empire.
What was said by the administrator Khay:
'By Amon and by the Prince. The scribe Huy was the son of [Wernero] the daughter of Neshi. And if ... [say(?)]: "It is not truth," then let me be put to confusion(?). By Amon and by the Prince ... not ... cultivate ... beyond them. Their harvest was taxed(?) ....'
What was said by ...:
'By [Amon and by] the Prince, if they examine and if they find that I cultivated ... portion ... me, let me be put to confusion(?).'
What was said by the priest of the temple of Ptah ...:
'By Amon and by the Prince, I speak [in truth, and I speak not] falsely; and if I speak falsely, may my [nose] and my ears be cut off, and may I be transported to Kush. I knew [the scribe Huy(?)] the son of Wernero. He cultivated [his] lands from [year] to year, and he cultivated them saying: 'I am the son of Wernero, [the daughter of Neshi(?)].'
[What was said by] the honey-maker of the Treasury of Pharaoh, Hori(?):
'By Amon and by the Prince, if I speak falsely, may my nose and my ears be cut off [and may I be transported to Kush. The scribe Huy] was the son of Wernero; and moreover, Wernero was the daughter of Neshi.'
What was said by the chief of the stable Neb-nofre:
Likewise, saying: 'As for the scribe Huy, he used to [cultivate his lands from year] to year, [doing] all that he desired. And they gathered in for him the harvest of his fields year by year. Then he pleaded [together with the citizenness] Ta-Kharu the mother of the officer Semen-tawy. And then he pleaded together with Semen-tawy her son, and they gave [the lands to] Huy, and they were duly confirmed (to him).'
What was said by the ...Bethertef:
Likewise, saying: 'The scribe Huy was the son of Wernero and Wernero was [the daughter of Neshi].'
What was said by the citizen Pay- hay:
'By Amon, and by the Prince, if I speak falsely, may I be sent to the back of the house. The scribe [Huy was the son of] Wernero and, moreover, Wernero was the daughter of Neshi.
What was said by the citizen Pepu-emwia.
Likewise.
What was said by the citizenness Tuy:
Likewise. ..........................
What was said by the citizen Maia before the [Great] Court in [the time of(?) ...]
'...Wernero his mother took the(?) ... leave to me my grain. I brought to me the administrator .... by Amon and by the Prince ... in that I am deprived of my portion.'
A copy was made, and [it was placed in] the judgment-hall of Pharaoh. ... judges. List: ... Before the Court of this day.
Year 59 under the Majesty of King Horemheb: Copy of the examination, which the priest [of the litter] Iniy, who was a Court officer, [made of] the Hnpt of the overseer of vessels Neshi, [which is in] the Wahyt of Neshi.
-Year 59 under the Majesty of King Horemheb: ?. Ramses II reigned from c. 1304-1237 BCE
'I came to the Wahyt of Neshi, [the place where] the lands are, concerning which the citi[zenness] Wernero and the citizenness Ta-Kharu dispute. They called together the heirs of Neshi with the notables of the town, who make ... [of] the Hnpt [of] Neshi, in order to hear their depositions.
List of the witnesses of : ... total, 4 persons (among them at least one woman).
List of the witnesses who came from the town to swear to them(?): ... What they said with one voice: "By Amon and by the Prince, we speak in truth ...."
[What was said by ...:]
'As for me, I was in the town ... day. I saw the Hnpt of the overseer of vessels Neshi, when it was held by the co-heirs. ... in the time of the Enemy of Akhetaton ... Akhetaton [where] Pharaoh was(?). And the citizenness Sheri-Re, the mother of the citizen[ness Ta-Kharu] ... Iry was ... for the Hnpt cultivating ... Sheri-Re, the mother of Ta-Kharu."
Now after ...'
-Enemy of Akhetaton: Akhenaten - Amenhotep IV, ruled c.1350-1334
   

Alan H. Gardiner, The Inscriptions of Mes, A Contribution to the Study of Egyptian Judicial Procedure,
Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Altertumskunde Ägyptens,Vol. 4/3 (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1905)

 


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