Papyrus with the will of Neskhonsu

From Thebes, Egypt
Ptolemaic period, reign of Ptolemy II, 265-264 BC

The distribution of property of a Theban woman to her eldest son

A number of document archives have survived from the area around Thebes. These archives belonged to the 'choachyte', a type of priest who took charge of the mummified body and found a suitable tomb: either a newly-built brick tomb, or a reused rock tomb from an earlier period. In return for these services the choachyte received a fee. After the burial the priest carried out prescribed rites until the descendants of the deceased stopped paying them. At this point it is likely that the mummy was quietly moved to a repository of bodies and no further rites were performed.

The mummies and tombs in the choachyte's care were a major asset and a considerable source of income. In this will Neskhonsu gives her son Panas half her rights as a choachyte as well as one and a half houses in Thebes and half a house on the west bank of the Nile. In return Panas is expected to look after her while she lives and give her a good burial when she dies. It does not seem likely that there were female choachytes; Neskhonsu probably inherited the rights to tomb fees from her husband.

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More information


C.A.R. Andrews, Catalogue of demotic papyri in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 39.700 cm (max.)
Length: 191.500 cm (max.)

Museum number

EA 10026



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