Homepage Timeline Maps A-Z index Learning

Survival: the archaeological record of Ancient Egyptian literary compositions

Survival depends on material, patterns of usage (wear, reduction) and deposit
See Quirke 1996

Conservation issues in the contemporary preservation of papyri
See Leach/Tait 2000

The number of surviving compositions
See Quirke 1996, especially p.387 'Nine Middle Kingdom literary texts survive complete on papyrus or leather rolls; of these, five are attested only on manuscripts of later periods'.

This extremely narrow base stands in contrast to the archaeological record at the only large Middle Kingdom town site, near modern Lahun, where several papyrus fragments survive, all from literary compositions not otherwise attested.

In other words, there was a wide body of literature in the late Middle Kingdom, from which there survive only the following (with in brackets the numbers of compositions attested)

These numbers might be augmented slightly by fragments of uncertain grouping (1 Amherst, 4 Lahun, 1 Lisht, 1 Ramesseum)

See the listing of Middle Kingdom literary compositions


Copyright © 2000 University College London. All rights reserved.