Tomb Robbery Papyrus (Papyrus Mayer B)



Papyrus Mayer B is a legal document recording part of a tomb robbery trial at the end of the New Kingdom. It is the written record of a confession to thefts in the tomb of King Ramesses VI in the Valley of the Kings (number KV9, beside the tomb of Tutankhamun KV62). Graffito in this tomb, dated to regnal year 9 of King Ramesses IX, on the ceiling of the burial chamber J may refer to the inspection of the tomb after it was reported robbed. The papyrus was unrolled and mounted on fabric by Constantine Simonides (1820–1867) for Joseph Mayer in 1860 or 1861. It consists of 14 horizontal lines of hieratic text but is unfortunately no more than a fragment. The beginning and end are both incomplete, and it doubtless formed part of a long document of which no other portion has survived. Four (or five) persons are mentioned by name in it: the foreigners Pais and Nesamun, and the coppersmiths Pentehetnakht and Hori. It contains part of the confession of a thief, who relates that he and his companion quarrelled as to the division of the spoil (silver, bronze, copper and linen) and were ‘given away’ by a third man who had managed to surprise their secret. As with Papyrus Mayer A, it was Charles Goodwin (1873) who first recognized this manuscript’s importance and published some notes on its content (1873), upon which the curator of the Mayer Collection, Charles Gatty, drew for his description of it (1879: 38). Eric Peet subsequently published the papyrus (1920); his later treatment of the tomb robbery papyri mentions this document only briefly, and he observed that he could not find a historical connection with any of the other groups of papyri in this corpus (1930: 176). Newberry and Peet (1932: 22, pl. 7) briefly described the manuscript and published a photograph of it in their guide to the Egyptian collections held in Liverpool’s public museums. A transcription is included in Kitchen’s corpus of Ramesside inscriptions (KRI6, 515–516).