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Ancient Egypt: The Abbott Papyrus: An investigation into tomb robberies held under Ramses IX
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The Abbott Papyrus: An investigation into tomb robberies held under Ramses IX

[Year 16, third month of the first season, day 18], under the majesty of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Lord of the Two Lands; Neferkere-Setepnere, L. P. H., Son of Re, Lord of Diadems: [Ramses (IX)-]Meriamon, L. P. H., beloved of (Amon)-Re, king of gods, and of Harakhte; given life forever and ever.
[There were sent] the inspectors of the great and august necropolis, the scribe of the vizier and the scribe of the overseer of the White House of Pharaoh, L. P. H., [in order to inspect the] sepulchers of former kings, the tombs and resting-places of the nobles, located on] the west of the city, by:
(1) the governor of the city and vizier, Khamwese;
(2) the king's-butler, Nesuamon ([ns-sw-]-jmn), the scribe of [Pharaoh];
(3) the major-domo of the house of the Divine Votress, L. P. H., of Amon-Re, king of gods, king's-butler, Neferkere-em-Per-Amon, the herald of Pharaoh, L. P. H., [because of the] thieves [on] the west of the city, concerning whom the mayor, the chief of police of the great and august necropolis [of] Pharaoh [on] the west of Thebes, Pewero (pA-wr-Aa), had reported to the vizier, the nobles and butlers of Pharaoh, L. P. H.
- Breasted: A papyrus found at Thebes (?), and acquired by the British Museum in 1857 by purchase from Dr. Abbott, of Cairo. The roll is 17 inches high, and contains on the recto 7 columns from 10 to 14 inches wide. Two columns on the verso (8 and 9), containing only hastily written lists of thieves, are 6 to 7 inches wide.
This document is really the vizier's abstract, taken from his files, recording the case between the two mayors, Peser and Pewero. The condition of the royal necropolis is, therefore, only incidental to the demonstration of the truth or falsity of Peser's charges against the necropolis administration. The whole case is concluded with the defeat of Peser, recorded at the end. The conditions in the necropolis, revealed in the document, led the scribe to consult it again after it had been lying for three years in the vizier's files, and on this occasion he recorded upon the back of the roll a list of tomb-robbers then awaiting trial, which had been handed in by Pewero, the mayor of the West. Nearly two months later he took down this same roll, to record a similar list beside the first
-Neferkere-em-Per-Amon: Breasted: This official and Nesuamon (No. 2 above) also figure in the relief scene showing the reward of the High Priest Amenhotep
[People] sent on this day:
The mayor and chief of police of the necropolis, Pewero;
[Chief of polic]e of this house, Beknurel (bk-n-wr-rA).
//////// of the [necropolis].
//////// of this house.
//////// of this house.
////////-amon.
Chief of police of this house, Menthirkhepeshef (mntw-[Hr]=xpS.f)
The scribe of the vizier, Penebik (pA-a-n-bjwk).
Chief scribe of the magazine of the overseer of the White House, Paynofer (pAj-nfr).
Prophet of the House of (King) Amenhotep, L. P. H., Peenkhew (pA-an-Haw)
Prophet of the wine-cellar of the house of Amon, Uramon (wr-jmn).
The police of the cemetery, who were with them.

 
 
 
-Penebik: Breasted: This man's name means "the claw of the hawk"
The pyramids, sepulchers, and tombs, investigated on this day, by the inspectors:
The eternal horizon of King Zeserkere, L. P. H., son of Re, Amenhotep (I), L. P. H., which is 120 cubits deep (measured) from its superstructure, which is called: "The-High-[Ascent(?)]," north of the "House-of-Amenhotep,-L.-P.-H.,-of-the- Garden," concerning which the mayor of the city, Peser (pA-sr), had reported to the governor of the city and vizier, Khamwese; the king's-butler, Nesuamon, the scribe of Pharaoh, major-domo of the house of the Divine Votress, L. P. H., of Amon-Re, king of gods; the king's-butler, Neferkere-em-Per-Amon, the herald of Pharaoh, L. P. H., and the great nobles, saying: "The thieves have broken into it."
Inspected on this day, it was found uninjured by the inspectors.
-pyramids: it is sometimes supposed that the term "pyramid" became closely associated with royal tombs and was used even when the tomb did not have the form of a pyramid.
-120 cubits deep: Breasted: This can only be the depth of the passage into the mountain, measured from the building at its front. This passage has never been found, but its entrance was certainly located on the plain, by the tombs of the Eleventh and Thirteenth Dynasties here investigated. A temple of Amenhotep I was found here by Spiegelberg. The tomb of Amenhotep I was the last to be located on the front of the western cliffs, his successor, Thutmose I, excavated his tomb in the valley behind, thus for the first time separating sepulcher and chapel. Hatshepsut's terraced temple, piercing into the cliff, brought her temple and her tomb behind it again close together; but those of following kings were again widely separated.
-House-of-Amenhotep,-L.-P.-H.,-of-the- Garden: Breasted: This is not the mortuary temple of Amenhotep I, which was called "House-of-Zeserkere (Amenhotep I)-on-the-West-of-Thebes". With "Amenhotep-of-the-Garden" compare "Amenhotep,-the-Image-upon-[///], and "Amenhotep-of-the-Court" of our document. These are doubtless all different Amenhoteps.
The pyramid of the king, the son of Re, Intefo (jn-[tf]-aA), L. P. H., which is on the north of the "House-of-Amenhotep,-L.-P.-H.,-of-the-Court (wbA)", upon which the pyramid is destroyed, before which its stela (still) stands; the figure of the king stands upon this stela, his hound being between his feet, named Behka (bH-Hw=kA).
It was inspected on this day; it was found uninjured.
-the figure of the king stands: Breasted: Engraved in relief upon the stela, which still survives, showing not only this dog with name as above, but also five others, which the scribe has not taken time to note.
-named: Breasted: The name of the dog; the disconnected order of words is also in the original.
The pyramid of King Nubkheperre (nb-xpr-ra), L. P. H., Son of Re, Intef, L. P. H., it was found in course of being tunneled into by the thieves; they had tunneled 2½ cubits into its [masonry (?)] (Drw), 1 cubit (distant) from the outer chamber of the tomb of the chief of the oblation-bearers of the House of Amon, Yuroi (jw-rA-j), which is in ruins. It was uninjured; the thieves had not been able to enter it. -Nubkheperre: Breasted: Of the Thirteenth Dynasty
The pyramid of King Sekhemre-Upmat (sxm-ra-wp-mAa.t), L. P. H.; Son of Re, Intefo (jntw.f-aA), L. P. H. It was found in course of being tunneled into by the thieves, at the place where its stela of its pyramid was set up.
Inspected on this day; it was found uninjured, the thieves had been unable to enter it.
The pyramid of King Sekhemre-Shedtowe (sxm-ra Sd-tAwj), L. P. H., Son of Re, Sebekemsaf (sbk-m-sa.f). It was found, that the thieves had broken into it by mining work through the base of its pyramid, from the outer chamber of the tomb of the overseer of the granary of King Menkheperre (Thutmose III), L. P. H., Nebamon. The burial-place of the king was found void of its lord, L. P. H., as well as the burial-place of the great king's-wife, Nubkhas (nb-xas), L. P. H., his royal wife; the thieves having laid their hand upon them. The vizier, the nobles, and the inspectors made an examination of it, and the manner in which the thieves had laid their hands upon this king and his royal wife, was ascertained.
The pyramid of King Sekenenre (sqn(j)n-ra), L. P. H., Son of Re, Tao (tA-aA), L. P. H.
Inspected on this day by the inspectors; it was found uninjured.
The pyramid of King Sekenenre, L. P. H., Son of Re, Taoo (tA-aA-aA), L. P. H., the second King Tao, L. P. H., .
Inspected on this day by the inspectors; it was found uninjured.
The succession during the 17th dynasty is still an unsolved problem. Based on this text, it is generally accepted that there were at least two kings referred to as Tao, but even concerning their prenomen, Seqenenre in both cases according to pAbbott, there are differences of opinion, some opting for two kings Tao named Seqenenre, others thinking that one of them may have been called Senakhtenre.
The pyramid of King Uzkheperre (wAD-xpr-ra), L. P. H., Son of Re, Kemose (kA-ms), L. P. H.
Inspected on this day; it was uninjured.
The pyramid of King Ahmose-Sepir (jaH-ms sA pA-jr), L. P. H.
Inspected; found uninjured.
The pyramid of King Nibhepetre (nb-Hp.t-ra), L. P. H., Son of Re, Mentuhotep (II), L. P. H., which is in Zeseret (Dsr-[t]); it was uninjured.
Total of pyramids of the former kings, inspected on this day by the inspectors:
Found uninjured 9 pyramids
Found broken into 1
Total 10
-King Ahmose: Ahmose, son of Peir (sA pA-jr), is not referred to as Son of Re, his father had not been not king himself.
-Zeseret: Djeseret, lit. sacred (ground), valley-basin of Deir el Bahri. Breasted: Zeseret was the name of the immediate locality in the Theban cemetery.
The tombs of the singing-women of the house of the Divine Votress, L. P. H., of Amon-Re, king of gods:
Found uninjured 2
Found broken into by the thieves 2
Total 4
 
These are the tombs and sepulchers in which the nobles, the [///], the Theban women, and the people of the land rest, on the west of the city; it was found that the thieves had broken into them all, that they had pulled out their occupants from their coverings and coffins, they (the occupants) being thrown upon the ground; and that they had stolen their articles of house-furniture, which had been given them, together with the gold, the silver, and the ornaments which were in their coverings.
The mayor and chief of police of the great and august necropolis, Pewero, together with die chiefs of police, and the inspectors of the necropolis, the scribe of the vizier, and the scribe of the overseer of the White House, who were with them, made a report upon them (the tombs) to:
The governor of the city and vizier, Khamwese;
The king's-butler, Nesuamon;
The scribe of Pharaoh, L. P. H., the major-domo of the house of the Divine Votress, L. P. H., of Amon Re, king of gods, king's-butler,Neferkere-em-Per-Amon, the herald of Pharaoh, L. P. H.,
And the great nobles. The mayor of the West, chief of police of the necropolis, Pewero, handed in the names of the thieves in writing before the vizier, the nobles and butlers. They were seized and imprisoned; they were examined, and confessed the facts.
Year 16, third month of the first season, day 19; day on which there went to inspect the great seats of the king's-children, the king's-wives, and the king's-mothers which are in "The-Place-of-Beauty:" The governor of the city and vizier, Khamwese; and the king's-butler, Nesuamon, the scribe of Pharaoh, L. P. H., after the coppersmith, Pekharu, of the west of the city, son of Kharu, his mother, being Mitshere (mj.t-Sry), a serf of "The-House-of-Usermare-Meriamon-L.-P.-H.,-in-the-House-of-Amon," under charge of the High Priest of Amon-Re, king of gods, Amenhotep, (being) the man who was found there and arrested, while he was with the three people of the (said) temple, beside the tombs, whom the vizier, Nibmare-nakht, had examined in the year 14, had told, saying: "I was in the tomb of the king's-wife, Isis, L. P. H., of King Usermare-Meriamon, L. P. H.; I carried off a few things from it, I took possession of them." -great seats: Breasted: Tombs
-The-Place-of-Beauty: Breasted: The name of a part of the necropolis
-coppersmith: Breasted: All that follows the "coppersmith" is merely the usual identification of such a serf, as found in their invoices of temple property.
-Pekharu: Breasted: Lit. "the Syrian", a very common name from the Eighteenth Dynasty on.
-Mitshere: Breasted: Lit. "Little Cat"
-Usermare-Meriamon: Ramses III
-man: Breasted: Apposition with "the coppersmith"
-had examined in the year 14: Breasted: He was therefore an old criminal, who had been tried ("examined") two years before, under a different vizier, the predecessor of Khamwese.
Then the vizier and the butler had the coppersmith taken before them to the tomb, while he was blindfolded as a man [/// ///]. He was permitted to see (again), when he had reached them. The officials said to him: "Go before us to the tomb, from which you said: 'I carried away the things.'"
The coppersmith went before the nobles to one of the [///] tombs of the king's-children of King Usermare-Setepnere,L. P. H, the Great God, in which no one was buried, which was left open, and (to) the hut of the workman of the necropolis, Amenemyenet (jmn-m-jn.t), son of Huy, which was in this place, saying: "Behold, the tombs in which I was."
-He was permitted to see: Breasted: Lit., "his eye was given to him."
-them: the tombs
-Usermare-Setepnere: Ramses II
The nobles examined the coppersmith with a [severe (?)] examination in the great valley, (but) he was not found to know any place there, except the two places upon which he had laid his. hand. He took an oath of the king, L. P. H., that he should be mutilated (by cutting off) his nose and his ears and placed upon the rack (if he lied), saying: "I know not any place here among these tombs, except this tomb which is open, together with the hut upon which I have laid your hands." -[severe (?)] examination: Breasted: The bastinado, or some form of torture, is certainly meant; compare the examinations in Papyrus Mayer
-oath of the king: Breasted: involving the name of the king, and hence the royal salutation.
The officials examined the tombs of the great seats which are in "The-Place-of-Beauty," in which the king's-children, king's-wives, king's-mothers, the goodly fathers and mothers of Pharaoh, L. P. H., rest. They were found uninjured. The great officials caused the inspectors, the administrators, the workmen of the necropolis, the chiefs of police, the police, and all the serf-laborers of the necropolis of the west of the city to go around as a great deputation to the city. -administrators: Breasted: This is probably the same word (Hwtjw) which occurs in the long inscription of Paynozem II, and the stela of Sheshonk, where it applies to dishonest necropolis officials.
-to go around as a great deputation: Breasted: To celebrate the triumph of the mayor of the west side.
Year 16, third month of the first season, day 19; on this day, at the time of evening, beside the House of Ptah, lord of Thebes, there came along the king's-butler, Nesuamon, the scribe of Pharaoh, L. P. H.; and the mayor of the city, Peser, and they came upon the chief workman, Userkhepesh (wsr-xpS); the scribe, Amennakht; and the workman of the necropolis, Amenhotep. The mayor of the city spoke to the people of the necropolis in the presence of the (said) butler of Pharaoh, saying: "As for this deputation which ye have made this day, it is no deputation at all. It is (only) your jubilation, which ye have made?"
So spake he to them. He took an oath of the king, L. P. H., in the presence of the (said) butler of Pharaoh, L. P. H., saying: "The scribe of the necropolis, Horishere (Hrj-Srj), son of Amennakht, and the scribe of the necropolis, Pebes, have told me five very serious accusations worthy of death against you. Yea, I am writing concerning them to Pharaoh, L. P. H., my lord, L. P. H., that a man of Pharaoh, L. P. H., may be sent to take you all in charge." So spake he.
-of the necropolis: Breasted: This shows that the first designation "of the necropolis" belongs to all three of the preceding names.
-necropolis: Breasted: This necropolis is given a special designation (n-Xnj-Xnj), and is therefore distinguished from the ordinary necropolis to which the second scribe is attached.
Year 16, third month of the first season, day 20. Copy of the letter which the mayor of the west of the city, the chief of police of the necropolis, Pewero, sent to the vizier, concerning the words, which the mayor of the city, Peser, spoke to the people of the necropolis, in the presence of the butler of Pharaoh, L. P. H., and of the scribe of the overseer of the treasury, Paynozem.
That which the mayor of the west of the city, Pewero, said, to wit: "The king's-butler, Nesuamon, the scribe of Pharaoh, L. P. H., happened by, when the mayor of the city, Peser, was with him, while he (the mayor) stood quarreling with the people of the necropolis, beside the House of Ptah, lord of Thebes. The mayor of the city spoke to the people of the necropolis, saying: 'Ye exult over me at the door of my house! Oh, indeed! Although I am the mayor who makes report to the ruler, L. P. H., and ye therefore exult over him. Ye were there; it was inspected; ye found it uninjured! Broken into were (the tomb of) Sekhemre-Shedtowe, L. P. H., Son of Re, Sebek-emsaf, L. P. H., and (that of) Nubkhas, L. P. H., his royal wife; one great ruler, L. P. H., while he makes ten reports. (I invoke) the [severity (?)] of Amon-Re, king of gods, this great god, on behalf of his monuments, standing in his hall this day. Then spake the workman, Userkhepesh, who is under the hand of the chief workman of the necropolis, Nakhtemhet, saying: 'But all the kings, together with their king's-wives, king's-mothers, and king's-children, who rest in the necropolis, together with those who rest in "The-Place-of-Beauty," they are uninjured, they are protected and defended forever. It is the goodly designs of Pharaoh, L. P. H., their son, which protect them and examine them [closely (?)] The mayor of the city spake to him saying: 'Are thy deeds as great as thy speech?' For this is indeed no little word which this mayor of the city spake.
Breasted: All the titles and conventional forms regularly introducing such a letter are here omitted and only the actual facts communicated are quoted by the recording scribe.
-who makes report: Breasted: Perhaps meaning that he only did his duty in reporting the robberies in the cemetery.
-it: Breasted: The necropolis.
-(I invoke) the [severity (?)] of Amon-Re, king of gods, this great god, on behalf of his monuments, standing in his hall this day: Breasted: The meaning of this last sentence is very uncertain. It may be that he calls upon Amon to protect the other monuments of Sebekemsaf, thus indicating the danger in which he thinks they are.
 
The reason for Paweraa accusing accusing Paser is unknown, but he cannot have been very happy with the mayor of Thebes interfering in the affairs of the metropolis and, at the very least, creating the impression that Paweraa had been derelict in his duties. Some have even been speculated upon the possibility that Paweraa was indirectly involved in the robberies and trying to draw attention away from himself.
This mayor of the city spake to him again, a second word, saying: 'The scribe of the necropolis, Horishere, son of Amennakht, came to the chief side of the city, to my place of abode, and he told me three very serious accusations. My scribe and the scribe of the two districts of the city put them in writing. Moreover, the scribe of the necropolis, Pebes, told me two other matters; in all five. They were put in writing likewise. He that hath them cannot keep silence. Forbid, for they are great and capital crimes, worthy of bringing to the block, and of executing every penalty because of them. Now, I shall write concerning them to Pharaoh, my lord, L. P. H., that a man of Pharaoh, L. P. H., may be sent to take you all in charge.' So spake he to them, this mayor of the city. He made ten oaths of the king, L. P. H., saying; 'So will I do.'
-chief side of the city: Breasted: That is, the east side
I heard these words which the mayor of the city spoke to the people of the great and august necropolis of millions of years, of Pharaoh, L. P. H., on the west of Thebes; and I report them to my lord, for it were a crime for one like me to hear (such) words and conceal them. But I was not able to apprehend the very serious words which the mayor of the city spoke; the scribes of the necropolis (Hr-n-Xnj) who stood among the people told me them, (but) my feet were not present with them. I report them to my lord, that my lord may bring in one who apprehended the words, which the mayor of the city spake, and the scribes of the necropolis told me. 'l am writing of them to Pharaoh, L. P. H.,' said he. This is a crime of these two scribes of the necropolis, that they should have applied to this mayor of the city, to report to him; for their fathers did not report to him, but they reported to the vizier when he was in the South. When he was in the North, however, the necropolis-police of the suite of his majesty, L. P. H., went North to the place where the vizier was, bearing their writings. -for it were a crime for one like me to hear (such) words and conceal them: Not reporting a crime was criminal by itself, cf. the introduction to the Instruction of Ankhsheshonq.
-apprehend: Breasted: For myself
-one who apprehended the words: Breasted: Lit., "one who reached (pH) the words"
[I have (?)] made (this) deposition in the year 16, third month of the first season, day 20, of the words which I have heard from the mayor of the city. I put them in writing before my lord, that those who apprehended them may be summoned for tomorrow. Breasted: Conclusion of Pewero's letter to the vizier. The closing greeting, etc., are omitted. As will be seen. by the following date, the case really came on the next day.
Year 16, third month of the first season, day 21; on this day in the great court of the city, beside the two stelae of /// /// the forecourt of Amon, in the gate (called): "Praise." -the great court: Breasted: of justice (qn.b aA.t
Courts were held at the gates of temples, where they often also had holding cells for the prisoners. (Cf. the Amherst Papyrus)
People and nobles who sat in the great court of the city on this day:
1. Governor of the city and vizier, Khamwese.
2. The High Priest of Amon-Re, king of gods, Amenhotep.
3. The prophet of Amon-Re, king of gods, [scribe (?)] of "The-House-of-Millions-of-Years-of-King-Neferkere-Setepnere,-L.-P.-H.", Nesuamon.
4. The king's-butler, Nesuamon, the scribe of Pharaoh, L. P. H.
5. The major-domo of the house of the Divine Votress, L. P. H., of Amon-Re, king of gods, king's-butler, Neferkere-em-Per-Amon, the herald of Pharaoh, L. P. H.
6. The deputy of [///], Hori.
7. The standard-bearer of the marines, Hori.
8. The mayor of the city, Peser.
-The mayor of the city, Peser: Breasted: The mayor thus belonged to the court which was to try his case.
The governor of the city and vizier, Khamwese, had brought in the coppersmith, Pekharu, son of Kharu; the coppersmith, Tharoy (TA-rA-j), son of Khamopet; and the coppersmith, Pekamen, son of Tharoy, of "The-House-of-Usermare-Meriamon,-L.-P.-H.", under charge of the High Priest of Amon. -Usermare-Meriamon: Ramses III
Said the vizier to the great nobles of the great court of the city: "This mayor of the city said a few words to the inspectors, and workmen of the necropolis, in the year 16, third month of the first season, day 19, in the presence of the king's-butler, Nesuamon, the scribe of Pharaoh, L. P. H., delivering himself of slanders concerning the great seats which are in 'The-Place-of-Beauty'. Now, I, the vizier of the land, have been there, with the king's-butler, Nesuamon, the scribe of Pharaoh, L. P. H. We inspected the tombs, where the mayor of the city said that the coppersmiths of 'The-House-of-Usermare- Meriamon,-L.-P.-H.,in-the-House-of-Amon', had been. We found them uninjured; and all that he said was found to be untrue. Now, behold, the coppersmiths stand before you; let them tell all that has occurred." -great seats: Breasted: tombs
-he: Breasted: The mayor of the city.
They were examined. It was found that the people did not know any place in the seat of Pharaoh, L. P. H., of which the mayor had spoken the words. He was found wrong therein. -seat of Pharaoh: Breasted: The necropolis.
-wrong: Breasted: Both here and above the word used (aDA) literally means "guilty", in a criminal case, and in a suit "defeated".
The great nobles granted life to the coppersmiths of "The-House-of-Usermare -Meriamon,-L.-P.-H.,-[in-the- House-of]-Amon". They were reassigned to the High Priest of Amon-Re [king of gods], Amenhotep, on this day. The documents thereof are: one roll; it is deposited in the office of the vizier's archives.
Year 1, first month of the first season,, day 2, corresponding to the year 19. Copy of the records of the necropolis-thieves, the thieves of the tombs, which was placed before Pharaoh, L. P. H., by the mayor of the west of the city, Pewero:
(Here follow the names of sixteen people, forming the list of thieves, of which the above is the title.)
Year 1, second month of the first season, day 25, corresponding to the year 19. Copy of the records of the necropolis-thieves, which was laid before the vizier, Nibmare-nakht, by the mayor of the west of the city, Pewero:
(Here follow the names of twenty-nine people, forming the list of which the above is the title.)
-the vizier, Nibmare-nakht: Breasted: This vizier is mentioned as having been in office in the fourteenth year of Ramses IX, while in the year 16 we have the vizier Khamwese. Here we find Nibmarenakht as vizier again in the nineteenth year, and he appears also in Papyrus Mayer of the same year. We must either suppose that there were two viziers of the South, or that Nibmarenakht's term of office was interrupted for a time.

J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, §§ 509-535

 


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