Hieratic Ostracon



A flake of limestone (ostracon) used as a writing surface which records accounts and notes about work done in the workman’s community village of Deir el Medina. Both sides have black carbon ink inscriptions in hieratic with red ochre ink used to tick off items on the list. Professor Mark Collier of the University of Liverpool provided a brief account of the inscription in 2013: “The recto opens with four lines specifying items given to an unnamed individual at a series of festivals (festivals of Taweret, Hathor and Meretseger). Lines 5 onwards are repeated instances of giving (but without specified occasion), all probably as recompense for some activity. The verso starts with a section (verso lines 1–5) of memorandum of items connected to work of 'my three lads', possibly people within a workshop. Verso line 6 end is a memorandum concerning a bed which ends up with Anupemheb, who saws off some wood for use in a coffin”. In 1873 Samuel Birch, of the British Museum, examined it and described it as a "having on one side 10 lines and on the other 9 lines of hieratic. It contains a statement or list of certain things delivered to certain persons on the occasion of a festival. Amongst the things mentioned are corn, vase or oil, and other objects." (MS 7 November 1873). A transcription of the hieratic into hieroglyphic script was made by Professor Eric Peet in 1922 on the museum catalogue card, beneath a short description of the object by Professor Percy Newberry in 1910. Newberry writes: “Limestone ostracon with hieratic inscription on recto (10 lines) and on verso (9 lines)”. Peet adds more information for the recto: “Numbers are checked in red ink. Lines 1, 2, 6 and 7 ruled through in red”; and for the verso: “Numbers are checked by second hand in red”. The object was borrowed by Professor J. Černy for study at the Griffith Institute, Oxford University (returned 17 July 1952) and is included in his publication with Dr Alan Gardiner, ‘Hieratic Ostraca’ (1957, pls 63 and 63a). The description they give is: ”Limestone, inscribed on both sides [arrows] in the same hand; complete, several lines cancelled in red. Sundry accounts and memoranda about work done. Many figures ticked off by red dots”.