About this object

Large flake of limestone (ostracon) with nine lines of a hieratic inscription in ink on the recto and nine lines of a hieratic inscription in ink on the verso. Recto: opening lines of Papyrus Petersburg 116 B recto (Prophecy of Neferty); verso: a household census list of a sculptor. Transcription on Newberry and Peet record cards.

The beginning of the Prophecy of Neferty written on it, has been published. It can be found in Golenischeff, 'Les Papyrus Hieratiques No. 1115, 1116A et 1116B de l'Ermitage Imperial a St Petersburg' (1913). As transcribed there, it found its way to Helck's synopsis of the Prophecy, 'Die Prophezeiung des Nfr.tj' (1970). In1873 Samuel Birch, of the British Museum, examined it and described it as "having 8 lines on one side and 7 on the other of hieratic writing. Part is marked off with red cloth. It is part of a statement addressed to a person and ends with lists of the family of the scribe Ta or Tsa comprising his wife and 5 children. It appears from the division to be part of a literary composition commenting 'it happened was the majesty of the good ... one of them ... of the ... were the goings and comings thou madest with (them) ... the things as thou didst so was the magistrates ... whom I love'. Etc." (MS 7 November 1873). Studied by Dr Fredrik Hagen, 2012. Image has been published by Professor Christopher Eyre, 'The Use of Documents in Pharaonic Egypt' (Oxford University Press) 2013, p. 217, fig. 5.1.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    New Kingdom
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Thebes: Deir el Medina
  • Date made
    1186 - 1069 BC (Dynasty 20)
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer
  • Collector
    Joseph Mayer
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Thebes: Deir el Medina
  • Date collected
    19th Century
  • Measurements
    200 mm x 190 mm
  • Related people
    Joseph Mayer (Associated Person, collector, previous owner)

Where is this object from?

Explore related


  • Die Prophezeiung des Nfr.tj

    Helck, Wolfgang

    Author: Helck, Wolfgang
    Publisher: Harrassowitz
    Date: 1970
    Description: Kleine Aegyptische Texte

  • Les Papyrus Hieratiques No. 1115, 1116A et 1116B de l'Ermitage Imperial a St Petersburg

    Golenischeff, W.

    Author: Golenischeff, W.
    Date: 1913

  • Les registres de recensement du village de Deir el-Medineh (Le Stato Civile)

    Demarée R.J., and D. Valbelle

    Author: Demarée R.J., and D. Valbelle
    Publisher: Peeters
    Date: 2011
    Description: Discovered in 1923 by G. Botti, the census records of the villagers of Deir el-Medina, preserved in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, are improperly known as the "civil Stato." Consisting of more than one hundred fragments of papyrus that are part of the Drovetti collection, this impressive puzzle received the attention of E. Schiaparelli and J. Cerny, who have provided the first retained hieroglyphic transcription of the hieratic text. After the discovery of new fragments and several rounds of additional analysis by Robert Demaree and Dominique Valbelle, they put together this critical work. It includes rare documents from the archives of Pharaonic Egypt that were stored - in a pitiful state - as part of the archives of the twentieth dynasty and include sheets of papyrus on which the composition of households was registered. Composed of fragments of several successive lists, they are nevertheless a cornerstone for the study of censuses in antiquity. After analyzing in detail the remains of the registry, the authors devote a chapter to the expression of identity in Pharaonic Egypt, to other house lists, and to other similar records. They study the shapes and patterns detected in the census documentation and list the indications of possible interests for contemporary data from the civil status of individuals. This book sheds new light on the maintenance of files of Pharaonic times and on people management in ancient Egypt.

  • The Use of Documents in Pharaonic Egypt

    Eyre, Christopher John

    Author: Eyre, Christopher John
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Date: 2013
    Description: This book reconstructs a history of documentary practice in pharaonic Egypt from the early Old Kingdom, when the writing system itself was technically very limited, to the major administrative changes imposed by the colonizing regimes of the Graeco-Roman period. It relates administrative and legal practice to the physical practicalities of the media used for writing, and through the close reading of primary textual sources it examines how different types of document — private and official — were created and used. The conclusions stress the unevenness of documentary usage, and the ways in which the writing of documents was deeply embedded in the interactions between customary social practices, that were essentially oral, and the penetration of outside hierarchies into local government. Limitations on the use of the written text as legal evidence are emphasized, in contexts where secure archival reference was impractical, but where the act of writing itself symbolized the exercise of hierarchical authority. Historical changes in contemporary attitudes to the nature and authority of documents are emphasized, within an essentially face-to-face society. It is argued that the potential of the document as evidence was never fully exploited in the pharaonic period, either in law or administration: that the written document did not itself become an autonomous proof, although its writing was a powerful symbol and display of hierarchical authority. Government is presented as a system rooted in personal prestige and patronage structures, lacking the effective departmental hierarchies and archive systems that would represent a true bureaucratic system.


Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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