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Sources in the Petrie Museum

 The Petrie Museum preserves parts of four major groups of primary sources for the economic history of Ancient Egypt:

The Abusir Papyri (Old Kingdom)
The Lahun Papyri (Middle Kingdom)
The Gurob papyri (New Kingdom)

Examples have been selected from these four groups to illustrate points raised in the thematic pages for economic history. The summary of all sources below sets the four groups in context.


Principal surviving written sources 3100-1100

Place-names denote find-place or, when in brackets, place where now preserved

1. accounts manuscripts, being papyri, sometimes leather rolls, and in some periods large numbers of ostraca (pottery or limestone fragments used for quick and cheap recording)

3100-2500 none (see 2. below for hieroglyphic sources)

2500-2000 Abusir Papyri; Gebelein Papyri

2000-1850 the four Heqanakht Letters, related accounts; the four Papyri Reisner (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

1850-1600 the temple accounts (Egyptian Museum,Berlin) and miscellaneous town documents (Petrie Museum, London) from Lahun; papyrus with two labour registers (Brooklyn Museum 35.1446); papyrus with accounts of the court of a 13th Dynasty king (Egyptian Museum, Cairo)

1600-1350 great mathematical manual (Rhind Papyrus, British Museum ESA 10057-8); Dates/Grain Papyrus (Louvre E 3226); about four hundred ostraca from Deir el-Bahri building projects; records of palace expenditure and income, and dockyard accounts (Papyrus Hermitage 1116A-B with British Museum ESA 10056)

1350-1100 thousands of ostraca and papyri from Deir el-Medina; Gurob Papyri; two ship logs and related letters (Leiden); Asyut papyrus with cargo accounts (Amiens/British Museum); Middle Egypt land records (Wilbour Papyrus, Brooklyn Museum)

2. hieroglyphic sources

3100-2500 in this period only commodity labels and short hieroglyphic inscriptions

2500-2000 longer hieroglyphic inscriptions include first donation and legal inscriptions

2000-1600 longer hieroglyphic inscriptions include detailed record of outgoings and income at court of king Amenemhat II for one year (about 1900 BC)

1600-1350 longer hieroglyphic inscriptions include detailed record of military campaigns and donations of king Thutmose III (about 1450-1400 BC)

1350-1100 longer hieroglyphic inscriptions include records of campaigns and donations, and great list of festivals at temple of king Ramesses III at Medinet Habu, Thebes



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