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Ancient Egypt: Demotic papyri from Rifeh
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Demotic papyri relating to economic aspects of religious life in the Ptolemaic Period

Embalmment contract

Papyrus B.3
////////// I will bind him, anoint him, embalm him //////////. It is thine, thy /////// which which are in thy treasuries, we have received ////////// 5 talents, its half ////////// talents, 5 talents again at 24 copper obols to the tetradrachm //////////. thou hast possession of them and they /////// the penalty (for?) anything and everything on earth ////////// every /////// on earth [the seat] which is in the middle of our district (?), the two ////////// aforesaid //////////// portion of the men ////////// to our treasuries, they giving burial, they pledging (?) the middle of the three seats ////////// us, and they (?) shall confirm it, he ////////// he praying ten times a month ////////// and I will give a further ten talents [its half] 5 talents, making 10 talents at 24 copper obols to the tetradrachm /////// the sacrifices and libations of the kings ////////// as aforesaid, I am (entitled) against thee in the legal right, the writing (?) ////////// year 8 Mesore 16 of the kings who live forever //////////.

Animals supplied?

Papyrus B.7

-   The drachma was the basic unit of currency, with 6 obols, small copper coins, to the drachma
  talent: monetary unit, equal to 6,000 drachmas
  5 talents, its half ////////// talents, 5 talents again: The mention of half the sum and repetition of the whole sum was a frequently used device in receipts and contracts to ensure their integrity.
  tetradrachm: Four drachma pieces
  at 24 copper obols to the tetradrachm: Making sure that there can be no misunderstanding as to the kind of drachma mentioned.
  Mesore: summer month
Column a.
1. ////////// ibis 1 makes loq 1
2. ////////// ibis 1 =1
3. brought ////////// from Pwrty ///////
4. ibis 1 =1
5. day 21, from (?) Pwrty to (?) Lycophron
6. one
hte (?? hyaena ?) which they brought on the mountain ½
7. ////////// hawk 1 ½
8. one
hte hawk ////////// ½

Column b.
1. /////// day 29 from (?) P-Sn-blHm (Psenblemmis) ibis 1 =1
2. /////// ibis 1 =1
3. for month of Thoth (?) loq 6 ½
4. Paopi from (?) Portis ////////// Archelaos (?)
5. took
aan (??) 4 = loq 2 ¼
6. day 21 (?) Harpaesis the younger //////////
7. brought a shepherd Peteesis the sheperd
8. one
hte = loq ½
9. day 25 from (?) Anup-p-ra(?)
10. one
hte hawk ¼
11. day 29 one ibis = loq 4 ¼
12. Pa-tbekis the shepherd
13. for Paopi loq 4 ¼

Column c.
1. Athyr //////////
2. ////////////
3. the treasury of L//////////

Source: Herbert Thompson The Demotic Papyri
in W.M.F. Petrie Gizeh and Rifeh

  The animal names are written with the determinative for divine.
  The animals which can be identified with certainty are ibises and hawks, which were mummified on a large scale.
  In the text itself there is nothing which would suggest that the purpose was mummification, though it may be difficult to come up with something else.
  loq: keramion, a fluid measure
  The means of exchange was seemingly a fluid, another strange aspect of this text.
  Pwrty: "Great of Five", a title of the High Priest of Thoth at Hermopolis, or Portis, Greek proper name
  month of Thoth: Thout, first month of Akhet, about Julian September [1]
  Paope: Second month of Akhet, about Julian October
  aan: ape or aXm: eagle?


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November 2003


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