The Abbott Papyrus

From Thebes, Egypt
20th Dynasty, around 1100 BC

Tomb robbery and political rivalry in ancient Egypt

A scandal erupted in Thebes in about year sixteen of the reign of Ramesses IX (1126-1108 BC). Reports started to reach Paser, the mayor of the eastern part of Thebes, that robberies had been taking place in the necropolis of the west bank of the Nile, particularly in the royal tombs. On the basis of these reports, the mayor set up a commission to investigate the allegations. This papyrus records the results of this investigation and the subsequent events.

All the royal tombs except one were found to be intact; only the tomb of King Sobekemzaf II of the Seventeenth Dynasty (about 1650-1550 BC) had been violated. A papyrus has survived that relates the trial of the robbers together with an account of the robbery itself. It also states that the non-royal tombs had been robbed as well.

Paser is shown in a bad light in the investigations. The papyrus seems to have been written from the perspective of Paser's rival, Paweraa, the mayor of the west bank of Thebes. Paweraa appears to have used this case to try and get the better of Paser. There was even a suspicion that Paweraa might have been involved in the tomb robbery in some way, and was keen to shift attention elsewhere.

The papyrus was purchased from a Dr Abbott in Cairo in 1857, hence its name.

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More information


T.E. Peet, The great tomb-robberies of th (Clarendon, 1930)

K.A. Kitchen, Ramesside inscriptions-1, vol. 6 (Oxford, Blackwell, 1983)


Height: 42.500 cm

Museum number

EA 10221



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