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Qau tomb 7695

The Letter to the Dead of Shepsi

Inside and outside of a pottery bowl for offerings

Shepsi writes to his dead parents for help in a dispute over property. He writes on the inside of the bowl to his father, with a shorter message on the outside to his mother.


(1) Shepsi speaks to his father Iinekhenmut.
(2) This is a reminder of your journey to the dungeon (?), to the place where Sen's son Hetepu was, when you brought (3) the foreleg of an ox, and when this your son came with Newaef, and when you said, Welcome, both of you. Sit and eat (4) meat! Am I to be injured in your presence, without this your son having done or said anything, by my brother ? (And yet) I was the one who buried him, I brought him from the dungeon (?), (5) I placed him among his desert tomb-dwellers, even though thirty measures of refined barley were due from him by a loan, and one bundle of garments, six measures of fine barley, (6) one ball (?) of flax, and a cup- even though I did for him what did not (need) to be done. He has done this against this your son evilly, evilly (7) - but you had said to this your son, 'All my property is vested in my son Shepsi along with my fields'. Now (8)Sher's son Henu has been taken. See, he is with you in the same city. (9) You have to go to judgement with him now, since your scribes are with (you) in the same city. (10) Can a man be joyful, when his spears are used [against his own son (??)] ?


(1) Shepsi speaks to his mother Iy.
(2) This is a reminder of the time that you said to this your son 'Bring me quails for me to eat', and when this your son brought to you (3) seven quails for you to eat. Am I to be injured in your presence, so that the children are badly discontent with this your son? (4) Who then will pour out water for you? If only you would judge between me and Sobekhotep! I brought him from another town, and placed him in his town (5) among his male and female dead, and gave him burial cloth. Why then is he acting against this your son, when I have said and done nothing, evilly, evilly? (6). Evil-doing is painful for the gods!

Gardiner/Sethe 1928: 3-5, 17-19

Wente 1990: 211-212, no.341 (interior), no.342 (exterior)


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