The Great Harris Papyrus

From Thebes, probably Deir el-Medina, Egypt
Reign of Ramesses IV, around 1200 BC

Papyrus from Discourse to the Gods, showing Ramesses III before the Triad of Thebes

At forty-two metres, this is one of the longest papyri still in existence from ancient Egypt. It is divided into five sections, with hieratic text and three illustrations of the king and the gods accompanied by hieroglyphic texts.

The first three sections describe the donations made by King Ramesses III (1184-1153 BC) to the gods and temples of Thebes, Heliopolis and Memphis. Each of these sections is illustrated, the king making offerings to three of the deities from each area. Here we see the triad of Thebes (Amun, Mut and Khons). The amounts were colossal: The list relating to Thebes alone includes 309,950 sacks of grain and large quantities of metals and semi-precious stones.

The next section deals with a number of minor temples. The final section recounts the events of the reign, and presents the chaos at the beginning of the Twentieth Dynasty (about 1186-1069 BC). This section is clearly idealized, glorifying the king rather than presenting a more trustworthy historical narrative. Nonetheless, it does contain many important pointers to the history of the reign. It ends with the death of Ramesses III and the accession of his son Ramesses IV (1153-1147 BC). No mention is made of the possible harem conspiracy that may have ended his life.

The papyrus is named after A.C. Harris who purchased it in 1855. The papyrus was acquired by the British Museum in 1872.

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More information


P. Grandet, Le papyrus Harris, 2 vols. (Cairo, 1994)


Height: 46.000 cm (frame)
Length: 74.000 cm (frame)

Museum number

EA 9999/2



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