Papyrus from the Abusir papyri

From Abusir, Egypt
5th Dynasty, around 2360 BC

From the major archive of Old Kingdom documentary texts

The Abusir papyri are the most important set of administrative documents to survive from Old Kingdom Egypt (about 2613-2160 BC). They reveal detailed information about the running of a royal mortuary establishment and include duty rosters for priests, lists of offerings and inventories of temple equipment, as well as letters and permits.

This fragment bears the remains of two different texts. The introduction, written in large hieroglyphs with a brush, begins with a date. Dates at this time were expressed in the number of national cattle-counts in the king's reign. These censuses usually took place every two years. The number of cattle-counts given in this document is fourteen, which might be interpreted as the twenty-eighth year of the king's reign. The reign may be that of King Izezi (about 2494-2345 BC) near the end of the Fifth Dynasty. The hieratic text to the right is a later addition and refers to allocations of grain given out to two men named Tjezemy and Nefernemtet.

Most of the Abusir papyri were discovered in about 1893 during illicit excavations at Abusir, about twenty kilometres south-west of Cairo, between Giza and Saqqara. They were subsequently sold to various Egyptologists. Shortly afterwards, the German Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt identified the find spot, near the pyramid temple of the Fifth-Dynasty king Neferirkare. This was confirmed by Borchardt's discovery of further fragments while excavating at the temple.

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More information


P. Posener-Kriéger and J. de Cenival, Hieratic papyri in the British (London, British Museum, 1968)

P. Posener-Kriéger, Les archives du temple funérai (Cairo, 1976)

R. Parkinson, Cracking codes: the Rosetta St (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 20.500 cm
Width: 21.000 cm

Museum number

EA 10735/10



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